Gareth Barry frustrated at missing Everton's clash with Manchester City
May 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Influential on-loan midfielder cannot play against his parent club
Gareth Barry admits he is frustrated at missing out on Everton’s last home game of the season against Manchester City on Saturday. The on-loan midfielder is prevented from facing his parent club by Premier League rules, meaning he will be a rare absence from Roberto Martinez’s team-sheet for the late afternoon kick off. Since joining on a season-long deal on deadline day of last summer's transfer window, Barry, 33, has featured in all but two of Everton’s top-flight fixtures – one of which was the corresponding game at the Etihad Stadium in October. The Blues have still not given up hope of qualifying for the Champions League and Barry is sad to have to watch such a significant clash from the Goodison Park stands. “It’s a fixture I looked at earlier on in the season because the last home game of the season is always a special one,” he said. “You want to be out there in front of your home fans for the last time that season, especially when there is something at stake as well.” Martinez admits it is a blow not having Barry available for selection – but stressed the midfielder’s work for the campaign is not yet over. Martinez said: “Gareth has been phenomenal and you run out of adjectives to describe his role this season. The enjoyment that he has brought into the squad with his know-how and experience has been terrific. "You don’t want to miss those sort of players but we knew that his contribution at Goodison this season was over after the Manchester United game. It was a great way for him to close his ‘home’ season, but now he is going to get ready for the final game of the season at Hull, where he will have a massive, massive influence.”
Martinez calls for change in laws so loan players can face parent club
May 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Blues manager will be without Gareth Barry's experience this weekend against Manchester City
Roberto Martinez has asked for a change in the laws to allow loan players to face their parent club.
Everton will be without Gareth Barry this weekend as he is ineligible to play against Manchester City as per the terms of his season long loan from the Eithad Stadium. Martinez wants the football authorities in England to bring the laws of the game in to line with European competition which allows loan players to play against their parent club. Thibaut Courtois, on loan at Atletico Madrid from Chelsea, helped the Spanish side make the Champions League final at the expense of the Stamford Bridge outfit last night. “Gareth should be allowed to play,” said Martinez.
“I don't see it as a healthy way to treat a loan if you are not allowing the player to play against his parent club. “If you allow a player to go out on loan then you are happy for them to play for another club. At the end of the season you can reassess that situation. “It is an interesting debate and something we should be looking at. “But it is clear that you shouldn't have two different and have different rules in different competitions. “The domestic laws should be the same as the European laws.” Martinez reiterated that no decision on Barry's long-term future will be taken until the end of the season. The Blues boss plans to talk with the midfielder after the campaign is over. Phil Jagielka, meanwhile, remains on course to be named in Saturday's squad after a lengthy absence with a hamstring injury. Defensive partner Sylvain Distin will be assessed over the coming days but Steven Pienaar is still sidelined.
Martinez: We will go into City game looking to win it
May 1 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
An Everton result would be a massive boost for Liverpool in their quest for first Premier League title
Roberto Martinez insists Everton FC have no dilemma heading into Saturday’s clash with Manchester City as he vowed: “We won’t drop our standards.” The Blues are still in faint contention for a top four finish, and victory would maintain those hopes at least until Arsenal face West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. However, avoiding defeat against Manuel Pellegrini’s title-chasing side would also give rivals Liverpool FC a major boost in their own quest to lift the Premier League trophy. That has prompted talk of mixed feelings among some Evertonians, but Martinez was quick to emphasise that there will be no such conflicted emotions in Goodison’s home dressing room. He said: “We’ve got such a professional group they wouldn’t dare to drop their standards, first and foremost not to let another team-mate down. But the main thing is that we’re trying to build something special for ourselves. “We are trying to be as good as we can and it’s not in our nature to try and throw points away or not give everything we can. “The history and heritage of this club makes the thought of that unacceptable. “We’ve got too much to fight for. It would be a debate if we were mid table with nothing to play for then that could be a debate. Even then though, it’s not in our nature.” Asked about the prospect of some Goodison fans dreading the ramifications of their own team winning, he said: “I think that's banter. That’s part of the rivalry and I understand it, but what’s more important is the integrity of our club and what we are as a team. If we are helping our neighbours to win something in the end, then it’s better than them winning something without our help.
“We’re not going to drop our standards. If anything it would be a glorious chapter in the history of the two clubs in the city to have a situation when one team helps the neighbours to be successful.
“City will bring everything - and neither side will settle for a draw. The ramifications will make it even more interesting. We must bounce back from last weekend’s feeling and get the same levels as Arsenal and United. “For us it is important that we can give a proper send-off for our fans in the last home game of the season and we want to give a performance to remember.” Manchester City’s chances of a second league crown in three years looked out of reach a week ago – but Chelsea’s victory at Anfield last Sunday, coupled with the Citizen’s success away to Crystal Palace, blew the title race wide open. And Martinez says it’s a great advertisement for the standards in the Premier League that there are still three teams fighting for the crown at this point in the season. “It’s fascinating to have three teams with mathematical possibilities to win the league,” he continued. “It shows the nature of the competition and the margins are very small.”
Howard Kendall: Beating big guns can be a springboard for Everton
May 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues will want to add City scalp to that of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal
Everton s clash with Manchester City tomorrow has got the whole city talking and hoping, for different reasons. I’ve heard the jokes from some Blues saying they don’t want to win if it means helping Liverpool’s title ambitions, and certainly heard a lot of Reds fans urging the Toffees on for a change. But I’m sure none of that will really give Roberto Martinez a pause for thought as he plans for the game. He will want to win, and that’s the only thing he should want too!
Everton have beaten Chelsea , Manchester United and Arsenal at home and Martinez will know that if they can add City’s scalp to that illustrious list it will give his side real belief they can achieve something special next season. And when I talk about something special, I mean a title shot themselves – just like Liverpool – never mind simply the top four. I am sure Martinez will instil that in the players before the game and he’ll be saying: “We are not far off the top ourselves so let’s go out on a high here.” Like it or not you have to disregard thoughts of how Liverpool could benefit if we win. When I took over as Everton manager, Liverpool had an incredible team and the challenge was for us to be better. If Brendan Rodgers’ men win it this season, then the gauntlet is down and it’s up to Everton to try and do the same next term. It will help us to aim as high as possible.
As a manager it helps you if you’re operating in a successful city – Liverpool’s progress can spur Everton on as much as it will be hard to take for many if they do end up victorious. Decisions are supposed to even themselves out over a season – both good and bad.
But when you get the sort of rotten refereeing luck the Toffees had against Southampton last weekend you’re entitled to feel aggrieved. With two games left, the cruel fact is that there’s precious little time for the bad to be evened out. And by bad I mean that inexplicable decision by Michael Oliver to book Leon Osman rather than award him a penalty when he was felled by Lovren and also to deny James McCarthy a strong shout for a spot kick when the same offender hauled him down as he tried to get up. The Osman decision was shocking – even Luis Suarez would have got a penalty there! If these things happen in the first 10 games then luck will change in the end. Not now. I suppose you’ve just got to suck it up and get on with it though, even if it does leave a sour taste. Speaking of Suarez, I think it was right that he was named the PFA player of the season. He has had an unbelievable campaign whatever you think of his antics in the past, and his fellow players have recognised that. Never mind money-bags Premier League clubs - La Liga rules
Despite all the money Manchester City and Chelsea spend, it seems La Liga teams are the dominant sides in Europe. Look at the fact the Champions League final will now be the Madrid derby.
Bayern Munich have been up there last season, and were close again this time, but despite Chelsea having a go, it is the Spanish sides who have made it to the final. Atletico are a major success story. For a few years they’ve effectively been a selling club, but whenever they lose a Falcao or a Torres they go and replace them with another top player. They’re scouting network must be the envy of every other club in Europe, particularly those who don’t have bottomless pits of cash to spend. Good
Everton v Man City: three key questions
May 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The three big talking points ahead of Everton's home clash to Manchester City
James McCarthy battles for possession
How much will Barry be missed?
Gareth Barry has played 31 of Everton's 36 games this season, and the Blues have won just one in his absence. With the midfielder ineligible against his parent club, focus turns to Roberto Martinez on how his side will shape up without him. He couldn't be missed more against one of Europe's strongest midfields. Yaya Toure, with legs of steel clanking up the pitch; Fernandinho, the unflashy Brazilian; David Silva, the Spaniard who floats around with wasp-like sting always poised.
As colleague David Triggs mentioned in an article earlier this week, Barry would be crucial to stopping the trio. He's made 2.8 tackles per game, as well as 1.6 interceptions and 2.5 clearances. He is Everton's best hope of repelling the expected onslaught of City's cast-iron midfield.
Leon Osman and Ross Barkley will be expected to vie for Barry's spot alongside James McCarthy. Osman has been utilised further up the pitch, while Barkley has only completed two matches this year. But with Martinez recently praising the control of Osman, it may be the 32-year-old who gets the nod. With Fernandinho, Toure and Silva to contend with, the chosen one will be sure to thank Martinez afterwards.
How will Goodison Park react?
It's the red elephant in the room, ready to slap nearly 40,000 Evertonians with its trunk as they enter Goodison Park on Saturday evening.
A win for Everton could hand the initiative back to Liverpool in the Premier League title race. But a win for Everton would also give Everton three points, confirm Everton's place in Europe and keep Everton's hopes of Champions League football alive.
The dilemma is understandable, one other football fans have had to face in the past.
Football, ultimately, is meant to be fun – and for some, nothing more fun than reminding the other side of Stanley Park about how they didn't win the league.
Social media is awash with Evertonians decreeing their hope to see City defeat their own side; a digital version of fluttering plumage. Whether that changes when Z Cars plays, and the match kicks off, is to be seen.
But the Everton players will not care about that, nor will the manager. And as Dave Prentice reaffirms: the Blues on the pitch will do their bit.
Goodison Park, home of Everton
Can Jagielka step back into the fold?
Phil Jagielka hasn't kicked a ball for the Blues since February 22 and looks likely to return in one of the hardest tests of the season. It will be for Martinez to decide whether to risk the England international from the start, especially with Silva's fitness confirmed. Dealing with Silva, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero is not so much bedding in, and more of a nightmare.
John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz suffered against Southampton, with the tone set within the first minute – Alcaraz's attempted clearance going horribly wrong and flying in off his head.
The calmness, composure and leadership of Jagielka would be welcome – especially with Sylvain Distin out. The captain's return could not come at a more crucial time. But if he's still not fully fit, Martinez faces a dilemma in defence.
Rodgers warning to Man City ahead of their crucial trip to 'outstanding' Everton
May 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Phil Kirkbride
Reds hoping favour from Merseyside neighbours in bid to win league championship
Brendan Rodgers has warned title rivals Manchester City that they face an Everton side packed with “outstanding” players tomorrow. The Reds championship hopes can be boosted if the Blues take points off third-placed City at Goodison Park. City are three points behind Liverpool, with two games in hand and with a superior goal difference. Rodgers, who takes his side to Crystal Palace on Monday, will be watching City's game and rubbished any suggestion that Everton will play a weakened team to deliberately derail the Reds title chances. “This week has been about putting things into perspective,” Rodgers said. “We are two points clear with two games to go and that is a wonderful position. “Manchester City have a really, really tough game against Everton.
“I have read some bits and pieces about Everton not wanting to do Liverpool a favour but Everton, in their own right, are a great club and have done really, really well this season – and in particular at home. “They are fighting for a Champions League position so they will be playing for themselves. They have some outstanding players and are looking for a result. We will just concentrate on our next game and if we win our next two games then we'll see where it takes us.”
Rodgers, who will be watching the game, added: “City will have to play extremely well to get a result. “City have gone there in the last number of years and found it difficult.”
Liverpool will continue to assess striker Daniel Sturridge ahead of the trip to London on Monday.
Sturridge has not trained this week but Rodgers says he has worked “tirelessly” with the club's medical staff.
Leighton Baines: Why I stayed at Everton but feel 'gutted' for David Moyes after Manchester United sack
Everton left-back Leighton Baines earned universal praise for not agitating for a move to Manchester United last summer but still "gutted" when David Moyes was sacked
By Chris Bascombe
02 May 2014
It is with reluctance that Leighton Baines finds himself cast as the poster boy for those who want reassurance that not all footballers are money grabbing, self-serving egomaniacs.
There is a perception that if the Everton and England left-back was more practised in the art of agitation, he would have been a Manchester United player several years ago, but those old-fashioned values of loyalty, duty and being an all-round good egg kept him on Merseyside.
The halo does not sit comfortably. Speaking in detail for the first time about United's failed attempt to sign him, Baines says his decision to stay at Everton was more complicated than unquestioningly pledging his future to his boyhood team. "I sat on the fence and saw how the thing played out," Baines says. "From this end, you might get credit for turning someone down that you probably don't deserve. The whole thing in the summer was letting things unfold. I could have signed a contract at any time in the summer and put it all to bed. "It was a case of letting the business side of it get conducted, knowing you couldn't lose. The perspective was I could only win from this situation.
"I don't want to keep playing that tune of being humble. You just appreciate where you are. It was stressful because I didn't know which way it was going to play out. You just try to conduct yourself in the proper manner as much as you can. There is always that. That is a factor throughout.
"I had the important conversations myself and didn't have someone in there for me feeding back what was happening. I spoke with the manager, I spoke with the chairman and we had private conversations. They kept me in the loop all along. I just let them deal with it and I wanted to be kept informed. I guess you never know if you're doing the right thing or not but at the time, it's not your decision as a player to make those calls." Whether Baines accepts applause or not, the fact he never asked for a transfer or issued public ultimatums is an admirable distinction from many of his peers. Marouane Fellaini handed in a transfer request to ensure he left Everton for Manchester United, and one only had to witness the different exit strategies of Gareth Bale and Luis Suárez – with varying degrees of success. There is another shrug. "Maybe it was just how I was brought up," says Baines. "If I was playing for a foreign club I may have acted differently but I think there is a different level of respect." There has been no cause for regret since. What attracted Baines to United was the Champions League, annual title bids and a manager he admired. All have gone, Baines's penalty in David Moyes's final game indicative of how fate conspired against the former Everton coach. "There are a lot of lads here who were long-serving under him. We all feel the same, we are a bit gutted for him," says Baines. "There are personal relationships there – you don't want to see anyone having a hard time. It's hard to know what to say but we know from working with him that he is a top manager. He has to do what is right for him now whether that's coming back straight away or having a little bit of time. The lads here who worked with him know he is a top manager.
"It's really hard. The important thing is the start. When you go in everyone is sussing each other out and from both sides. If you start well as a player when a new manager comes in the first impressions are positive. It can also work the other way." While Moyes sank, his successor Roberto Martínez has thrived at Goodison. There is still a top-four chance, albeit slim, heading into Saturday's meeting with Manchester City, although Baines recalls the early months when no one was certain that the Spanish coach's methods would work. "We started with a few draws and everyone was kind of sitting on the fence, and then we beat Chelsea and went on a bit of a run. That game was massive," Baines says. "Even if you look back, we nearly conceded a ridiculous goal trying to play out of defence. What if that had of gone in and you lose the game because of it? It was the tipping point. If we had lost maybe people would have started to want what they had before. But we went on a run.
"They are fine lines. Beating Chelsea gave us the lift and made us kick on. We were trying to buy into all the new ideas and concepts but it's the same with everyone. It's a results-based business and until you start getting results, you're not going to buy into it. I guess over there [Manchester United] they never quite got going and, if they had, they would probably have been flying. "I can only be happy with the way we are going along now and the position we are in, still in with a fighting chance of getting Champions League football. We have our highest Premier League points tally in a season and that under the new manager, for a first season, is extremely positive going. The next step is to see what we can do about strengthening. I'm sure the manager is looking at that."
One of Martínez's plans is to redeploy Baines as a central midfielder, enabling him to follow the journey of Bayern Munich's Philipp Lahm from full-back to midfield. Baines accompanied his manager on a scouting mission when Bayern played United at Old Trafford. "No pressure!" Baines jokes. "The lads have been talking about it and I've been getting a bit of stick. I'm teacher's pet now. I've never heard of it happening before but it was good to see the game live and for him to show the things that they do and the similarities of what he wants us to do. "I'll be excited to give it a go. I know it sounds stupid but for a few years we used to play a 'young versus old' game on a Friday and that was my position. Tim Howard was saying the other day, 'I hope you do play there because I called it two years ago'. Steve Round [former Moyes assistant] had mentioned it before so it wasn't out of nowhere but I wouldn't expect to be playing there. "Roberto is such a contrast to what we had before, the way he wants us to play and the fact he won't compromise on it. He wants you to do what he wants and if he sees it's not really happening, he's not going to go, 'right we will play long'. We could play good stuff before but I think now there is a real tactical meaning to everything.
"There are certain triggers within the system that someone takes up a certain position knowing that another guy is going to see that trigger, and he will go into a different position himself. It is all very specific and thought out and that's the difference." Victory over City will secure Everton's European place but whatever the outcome the impact on the title race, for Liverpool as much as City, has dominated the pre-match agenda. Baines says the players are thinking only of winning.
"Loads of people have obviously mentioned that potential scenario [of helping Liverpool] but when the game comes around we will want to win the game, pure and simple," he says. "You understand the fans' side of the rivalry but you shouldn't judge yourself on others' success or failure. I think Liverpool not winning the league doesn't make us any better."
Leon Osman says he has flourished thanks to Martinez's careful selection policy
May 2 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Micheal McKenna
Midfielder has appeared as substitute 11 times this season but has featured in every Premier League fixture
Everton FC midfielder Leon Osman believes he has flourished thanks to Roberto Martinez’s considered selection policy. The midfielder has appeared as a substitute 11 times this season, but is delighted to have featured in every Premier League fixture. Osman, 32, is likely to get his starting wish against Manchester City today in Gareth Barry’s absence, and he said: “I am very proud to have played in every game this season. “To get the best out of players, sometimes you need to adapt and use them where he thinks best, and that’s what the manager has done this season.” Versatile Osman has been utilised in a number of different roles for the Blues, and his last three outings have been from the bench. Last month Martinez told the ECHO that Osman could prolong his career at the top level for another ‘three or four’ years, as he is kept fresh by rotating between starting roles and substitute cameos. And the veteran and put me on.
“I am thankful for that, but I have to keep working hard to make sure that keeps happening.
“I have been speaking to the manager a little bit about when to use me. He knows that, like every other player, I want to play every minute of every game. From the top level right down to Sunday league, that’s what you want.” Osman hopes to sign off from home duties at Goodison this afternoon with a repeat of last year’s 2-0 home victory over Manchester City.
He scored a stunning 30-yard volley when the Blues downed the Citizens last March, and Manuel Pellegrini’s men are unlikely to relish their tea-time visit to Merseyside. Manchester City have been beaten on their last four trips to Goodison and the midfielder is targeting another stylish performance to seal at least European qualification for next term. “It will be nice to repeat the result from last season, especially if I manage to score again,” Osman said. “But, as we have shown this season, we are a team and it is going to take a team performance to get that win.
“It is always special, that last home game at Goodison. You always want to put on a final show for the fans, hopefully get a win and then walk round and celebrate at the end of it.
“It’s a game that we will certainly be going into wanting to win.” says he can understand his manager’s logic even if he would prefer to play every minute. He continued: “Not only did I manage to play in every game, but the manager has selected me
Liverpool might not win the title, but that doesn't make Everton successful, says Leighton Baines
May 2 2014 Daily Mirror
By David Maddock
The Toffees left-back says Everton shouldn't measure themselves against their Merseyside rivals, they should focus on themselves
Leighton Baines has insisted that Liverpool failure does not make Everton successful.
And the England star believes that is the most compelling reason why his side would not dream of downing tools against Manchester City today. The Blues players are acutely aware if they pull off a shock victory this afternoon, then it could gift a remarkable title triumph to their bitter rivals from across Stanley Park. But Baines revealed the Everton players will only have winning on their mind, for one simple reason: "Liverpool not winning the league doesn't make us any better," he stated bluntly. "Loads of people have obviously mentioned that potential scenario but I guess when the game comes round we will want to win the game, pure and simple. "You understand the fans side of the rivalry but you shouldn't judge yourself on others' success or failure." The situation has generated a deluge of conspiracy theories on Merseyside all week, with Liverpool fans convinced their rivals will throw in the towel against City. Blues supporters on the other hand, have been left in a state of torture, because they know on the one hand, their side need to win to ensure European football next season, and keep their top four hopes alive. But on the other, taking points off City would hand the title initiative to their hated rivals, and that would be a bitter pill to swallow.
Baines though, pointed directly at the assembled journalists who asked him the question about how hard Everton would be trying in what is now a massive Premier League game, to draw the perfect analogy. "If he writes a crap story, it doesn't make yours any better," he said with a smile as he gestured towards the media. "Look, we are still in with a chance of making it into the Champions' League, although we have to rely on a bit of luck and need to be perfect, but we are in with a chance which is important."
Will Everton hand points to Man City? A Liverpool fan and an Everton fan have their say
May 02, 2014 22:30
Some Everton fans say they are disappointed by suggestions that they would drop points to Man City to spite Liverpool
The issue is generating more conspiracy theories on Merseyside than a Dan Brown novel.
Liverpool need Manchester City to drop points at Goodison Park today, which raises the question – will Everton push for victory, knowing it could hand the Premier League to their neighbours and arch-rivals?
We get the views from both sides of Stanley Park.
Dave Usher, editor of The Liverpool Way fanzine:
“Opinion is divided. Some think that with Arsenal taking a grip on fourth place, Everton might not be as motivated as they may have been otherwise. Alternatively there are other, more optimistic souls who look at City’s horrendous record at Goodison in recent years and draw hope from that.
"But I have no doubt Everton will go all out to win. They’re professionals and won’t care whether they help Liverpool or not.”
Check Dave’s website here.
Paul Dargan writes on all things Everton:
“Although it pains me to say it, Everton’s Champions League challenge is almost certainly extinguished. But I’ve been disappointed by accusations from some Reds that we would not try to extend our excellent home record and the tremendous run of results against City.
"Any Evertonian unhappy at having the potential to hand their rivals the league title on a plate will have little effect on the outcome of the match. The integrity of the players is beyond question. They will want maximum points while their own target is still mathematically attainable.”
Manchester City must not be scared of Everton, says Manuel Pellegrini
• City have fate in own hands as they visit Goodison Park
• City have won only once at Everton since 1993-1994 season
The Guardian, Friday 2 May 2014
Manuel Pellegrini has said Manchester City should not be scared of Everton in a match that may prove pivotal in their bid to claim the Premier League title.
City travel to Goodison Park for late kick-off knowing victory in the last three games will secure a second title in three seasons, unless Liverpool also manage maximum points and overturn an inferior goal difference of eight. Since the 1993-94 campaign City have managed one win at Everton. This season, Martínez has taken his team to within four points of a Champions League position by transforming them into a fast, attacking force, with the full-backs Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman often a focal point. Yet asked if this speed frightens him, Pellegrini said: "Everton has a lot of different things. We must not fear [be scared] about that but we must think which is the best way to counter the way they play. More important is to win in our style of play and try to do the things better that they do." The City manager was equally equanimous about the threat posed by Coleman and Baines. "I think it's not only the full-backs," he said. "Everton have players who have a very good year with high performance. Romelu Lukaku has been very important, the midfielders are also playing very well so I think we must try to think about the complete team of Everton, more than any special player." Pellegrini, who has David Silva fit again after an ankle problem, was reluctant to state why City can beat Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham United to become champions. "We are just thinking about the next game. It is very important to win that and then think about the next two games. It is very important to be fighting until the end because we started the season playing very badly away. We won just four points from the first 18 but from that moment on we've been one of the best away teams. It is important to continue playing that way." The closing three games occur in the last week of the campaign. Pellegrini has stated previously that Silva cannot play so many games in such a short space of time, so will he be rested for one? "We will see which is better for the team and for David – we'll see if he plays against Everton how he does," Pellegrini said. "See what the improvement in his ankle is. David is a very important player for us so to be in the squad list is very important." Samir Nasri believes it is a "miracle" that the title's destination is back in City's hands. "We have to understand that now we are in this position, it's a miracle," the playmaker said. "We cannot fail any more. We thought that Chelsea would beat Sunderland – they didn't. We thought Chelsea would go to Liverpool with a second team and lose – but they beat Liverpool. Now that we are here, it doesn't matter where we are playing, we have to get a result and win it because it's a miracle we are still here. We have a league to win. We cannot fail.
"People say we are the favourites but we have to win our games and the next one is really tough. We have our fate in our own hands and that's the most important thing." Nasri was a member of the City team who became champions on the closing day of the 2011-12 season and he believes that experience can help now. "I think it's crucial because we won it in the same way it's looking this time," he said. "Three games before the end of the season, United drew against Everton 4-4 and we beat Wolves, before playing United. It's the same kind of thing that's happening. Liverpool just lost a game at home, we won against Palace. Now we know if we win our games we'll be champions. We have this experience, Liverpool doesn't – and that can be good for us."
Leighton Baines insists he doesn't deserve any credit for staying at Everton
LEIGHTON BAINES has been praised by Everton fans for not pushing for a big-money move to Manchester United last summer.
By Chris McKenna
May 3 2015 Daily Star
But the modest defender insists he deserves no credit after letting the drama unfold without having to make a decision. England international Baines, 29, was a top target for former Everton boss David Moyes when he jumped ship to United last year. But the Old Trafford club could not persuade Everton to sell and Baines eventually signed a new deal at Goodison Park in January.
It has proved to be a wise choice with United set to finish below Everton this season and Moyes already dismissed from his post as the champions crumbled. But Baines said: "I could have said 'I'll sign the contract now and put it all to bed' but it was just a case of letting the business side of it getting conducted and knowing that you couldn't lose really. "I guess you never know if you're doing the right thing or not but at the time, it's not your decision as a player to make them calls.
"It was a bit of a stressful time because you're not sure what way it's going to go. I think you just try to conduct yourself in the proper manner as much as you can. "The manager and chairman kept me in the loop all along and from this end you might get credit for turning someone down that you probably don't deserve because you didn't. "I sat on the fence and saw how the thing played out."
David Silva back to help City end their Goodison Park hoodoo
May 3 2014 Manchester Evening News
By Mike Keegan
Pellegrini urges City to forget the past and make a giant leap towards title glory when they visit Everton on Saturday evening.
City are used to rewriting history these days - and Manuel Pellegrini has urged them to forget the past as they look to end their Goodison Park hoodoo and take a giant leap towards title glory.
The Blues boss, given a huge boost by the return of David Silva, is well aware of their miserable record at Everton. On just one occasion in the last 15 attempts has a City side headed back to Manchester with three points. Before that Robinho-inspired 2-1 triumph in 2009 you have to go back as far as October 1992 when a brace from Mike Sheron sandwiched a David White effort which rendered Ian Brightwell's own goal an irrelevance. The Chilean, however, is not fazed by that remarkable run. "I think the past is the past," he said. "This is the present. We have to play now and I hope we can win it." The news that Silva returns will have given Pellegrini confidence.
The influential, twinkle-toed Spaniard has missed two of Blues' last three games and his manager, although he did not display it, will be delighted to have him back. "The only player that we have injured is Jesus Navas," he said. "All the other players in the squad are fit. David is a very important player for us so to be in the squad list is very important." Victory could put the Blues top on goal difference from Liverpool, who are at Crystal Palace on Monday and two points ahead of Chelsea who entertain Norwich City on Sunday. That would be a rare feeling in a season that has seen City playing catch up for long periods after after fighting for glory on four fronts. It would also represent the clearing of the biggest hurdle - with Aston Villa (on Wednesday) and West Ham United (on Sunday) completing their schedule at Fortress Etihad. Regardless, Pellegrini brushed off claims this is the biggest game of his Blues' career. "I don't think so because I think if we are in this position it is because we play a lot of games to be in this position," he said. "It is not the last game - we must try to win the last three. Chelsea and Liverpool also have their games to play. It's a very important game. It's in our hands to try and win the title - but we must win the next game." City will not be up against Gareth Barry, a revelation on Merseyside, thanks to the terms of his season-long loan deal. But Pellegrini denies allowing him to move to Roberto Martinez's side was a mistake. "It was very important for Gareth to play," he said. "I have five midfielders. I kept Jack Rodwell because he had more years contract. I am very happy for him he had a very good year." That City's destiny is back in their own hands represents a staggering turnaround. Defeat at Anfield seemed to spell the end of their season - especially when followed up with a logic defying home draw with Sunderland. All of a sudden, thanks to Chelsea's 2-0 win at Liverpool, three wins will do it. Pellegrini acknowledged spirits in the Blues camp had lifted. "After we lost against Liverpool, maybe the mood wasn't the same," he said. "That's why maybe we didn't play so well against Sunderland. In this moment the motivation is very high, now it is important that the performance also must be high." Unflappable as ever, Pellegrini denied that Chelsea's shock win had surprised him. "In football you never know," he said.
"The only important thing for us was to think about what we can do and the only thing we can do is to try and win our games."
Everton FC v Manchester City: Boss Roberto Martinez wants 75 points
May 3 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
What six more points would mean for Toffees in manager's first season in charge
Everton's manager Roberto Martinez.
The Everton manager insists there would be a significant difference between the Blues ending his debut season in charge with their current haul of 69, compared to an additional six points.
Having already firmly dismissed any notion of questions over his side’s integrity as they seek a win which could revive Liverpool’s title hopes, Martinez wants his players to focus purely on the points.
And the Catalan believes that putting 75 points on the board, which would have been enough to secure Champions League football in each of the last five Premier League seasons, would raise the bar for next term. “We want that phenomenal amount – it has a lot of meaning,” says Martinez. “If you get that it allows you to prepare for next season in a different manner. “The perception from the outside (about Everton) would be different. That’s what we need to achieve. It won’t be easy but we have an opportunity for the first time in our Premier League era. “I can understand the outside talk and banter (about the City game) but everyone knows there is no question. When we go on our pitch we’ll give our lives to get a win. “When you finish with 75 points you set a high standard for next season. This season needs to be a platform for the future.” In order to take the first step to 75 points, the Toffees must triumph over a visiting team who believe they might be back in with a chance of glory. City’s tails are up after a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Everton, by contrast, are still smarting from the 2-0 defeat at Southampton last weekend which so severely dented their top-four dream. “We were all very disappointed with the result but at the same time we’re still having a strong run,” says Martinez. “The confidence is really high and we’re desperate to get back to being ourselves and performing in the manner we know we can. “We’re facing one of the best teams in the league and it seems an eternity since we played them at the Etihad. “It will be a great measure of where we are when you assess the season overall.” Martinez was forced to taste his first league defeat this term at City’s hands in October, when the Blues were pegged back 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Everton started brightly that afternoon and took the lead through Romelu Lukaku, while also being denied a strong penalty claim when the Belgian was unceremoniously toppled in the area by Matija Nastasic. It means that as he prepares his side for this afternoon’s clash, Martinez can focus on the positives of a display and reiterate that his side have improved considerably since.“We started that game very well,” he says. “Scoring first against a side that concedes very few, if any, at home. “We started to show the potential we had, but in the end had a bad feeling. Now we can show how far we’ve come since that day against a team with a real chance of winning the title.”The Blues have won their last four matches at home to City and have lost only twice in the league at Goodison Park since December 30 2012. Martinez takes great confidence from that and wants his side to give the fans a good send-off in the final home game of what has been a successful season of transition after the departure of David Moyes last summer. “This is one of those glamorous games you keep in your memory forever,” he adds. “We have been outstanding in the last few fixtures at home and you look at (wins against) similar teams like Arsenal and Manchester United and we need to carry on at the same level. “It is important we give our fans a proper send-off and make it a performance to remember. “It is a very easy game to approach from our point of view. “After seeing their (City’s) performance at Crystal Palace we know we are going to face a tough team and this team seems ready to finish this season strongly. “The last home fixture is always a special fixture so in that respect it is very easy - we are fully focused on hosting a really important game.”Martinez will give Sylvain Distin a late fitness test this morning, and will need to be convinced Phil Jagielka is also 100%. If he has both available he will be glad, although, as ever, the Blues boss would have every confidence in John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz to deputise. “It’s hard to be without both as they are such experienced players in the dressing room,” he says. “But this season whenever we’ve had an injury or suspension we haven’t used it as an excuse; it’s been a chance for someone else and that’s improved the squad. It’s healthy. “You don’t want to lose your leaders, though, and it’s always great to have them back and fit.”
Royal Blue: Everton need crowd to be right on side
May 3 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
Players feed off special atmosphere
My mate's nan sat down slowly and looked him square in the eyes with a look which suggested impending bad news. He steeled himself for the worst. “I don’t really know how to say this love,” she mumbled, as his knuckles went white around the handle of his tea mug.
“But... I think I want us to get beat by City. I couldn’t bear it if they won the league.”
He recounted this anecdote with a smile, but at the time it dawned on him that it’s coming to something when even a 70-year-old life-long Evertonian is struggling with the prospect of a victory for her beloved team this tea-time. It’s a conundrum many Blues have been mulling over this week, regardless of the expected professional noises about wanting to win from the home dressing room and manager’s office at Goodison. Roberto Martinez speaks of another “special chapter” in the history of Everton and Liverpool if a Blues triumph today revived the Reds’ title hopes.
He has a good point when he says that at least Toffees could tell their Red mates that they couldn’t have done it without them. But his words will still offer little solace to Evertonians if their team miss out on the top four, and they are then subjected to years of hearing about the Spirit of 2014; When Brendan’s Reds finally reclaimed their ‘rightful’ place as Champions. Yet – and here’s the real problem – all the ramifications of today’s game are, until Sunday in respect of Arsenal, and Monday for the Kopites, pure conjecture. Imagine if Everton’s players gave less than 100% today, and then West Brom (unlikely as it is) beat the Gunners, while Crystal Palace did a number on the nervy Reds.
Who knows? What we do know, however, is that when Everton are at their best at home, it’s thanks to that special symbiosis between Goodison and the players. Anger, defiance and will to win from the Gwladys Street are absorbed and reflected on the pitch and vice versa. Nerves on the pitch transmit quickly to the stands. A bad decision can awaken the bear-pit which so often roars the Blues home. That’s why there’s a danger any lukewarm feelings about today could leave the players bereft of that special extra burst of encouragement they will need if they are to get a result against a title-chasing side with as much quality as the Citizens. It remains to be seen if the banter and mixed feelings of many, my pal’s Nan included, vanishes when the whistle blows and their team are going all out to win. If it doesn’t – it could mean a particularly peculiar atmosphere in the Old Lady, which could mean that special winning ingredient is missing. What happens then is anyone’s guess...
Show your appreciation for players Everton's players will take part in a lap of appreciation following the game against Manchester City to mark the end of their Goodison Park campaign.
Supporters are able to stay behind after the match to watch the annual end-of-term activities unfold. Following the final whistle, the players will return to the dressing room, at which time videos showcasing the highlights of a memorable 2013/14 season will be shown on the big screens.
Roberto Martinez and his players will then re-emerge from the tunnel and complete a lap of pitch – while T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Proud to be Blue’ will also be fired by the players into the crowd using a t-shirt cannon. However, the lap of appreciation is just one of many activities going on at Goodison Park this weekend. A huge crowd flag has been produced and will travel from the Upper Gwladys and across the Upper Bullens moments before kick-off to salute Martinez at the end of his first campaign in charge. Supporters’ own flags will also be draped around the stadium.
In the build-up to kick off, the Fan Zone will open at 3.30pm for entertainment, giveaways and live music - including a duet by local singer Jennifer Jewell and former Goodison great Ian Snodin.
Meanwhile, the Players’ Parade will get underway from 3pm, giving fans the chance to meet and greet the squad on arrival in the Park End car park. Also outside the ground, the Everton stilt-walkers return and will be handing out miniature flags to junior Blues, while percussion group Batala will be marching down Goodison Road drumming up the atmosphere. Goodison in World Cup and legend Sheedy at St Luke’s Goodison Park’s role during the 1966 World Cup will be celebrated at St Luke’s Church ahead of today’s game against Manchester City. The Everton Heritage Society invite supporters from both sides to view a special exhibition of photographs, articles and DVDs highlighting the role of Goodison during the tournament. The Blues’ home hosted five games during the tournament – including Brazil’s group matches, a famous quarter-final between Portugal and North Korea and the semi-final clash between West Germany and Russia. Legendary Portuguese marksman Eusebio later said: “Goodison Park is for me the best stadium in my life.”
Meanwhile, Blues legend Kevin Sheedy will be signing copies of his new autobiography in the church between 4pm and 5pm. Admission to St Luke’s is free. Ossie: I don’t even know how to dive
Not only does Leon Osman insists he was stunned to be booked for simulation when he was denied a stonewall penalty at Southampton – the Blues veteran says he doesn’t even know how to dive!
“I wouldn’t know how to dive properly if there was no contact from a defender,” he said. “Some players do it well but they must practice! Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to witness my lack of grace and style when I dive into a swimming pool would know that I’d never try it on grass!
Everton 2 Manchester City 3: what we learned from Goodison defeat
May 3 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
The five key talking points after the Blues come up short against City
Tactical flexibility is name of the game
Roberto Martinez started with a 3-4-3; then, he moved to a 4-1-4-1; that became 4-3-1-2 before the 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 were utilised. The Spaniard's flexibility was one of the most endearing things about him at Wigan Athletic, but at Goodison Park, he's rarely deviated from the 4-3-3. Against City, he opted for the system he used a lot during his time at the Latics – with mixed results. It would be interesting to know Martinez's thinking. Did the absence of Gareth Barry facilitate more protection deeper? Perhaps the return of Phil Jagielka forced his hand? Or maybe, with fifth secured earlier in the day, these last two games are a chance for experimentation? Martinez adapted to the game's current situation; the departure of Sergio Aguero pushed Yaya Toure higher, so James McCarthy man-marked him; Seamus Coleman played right midfield then right back, John Stones was at right back and then in the centre. Whether Martinez persists with the 3-4-3 in the future remains to be seen – at home to a team that have moved to the top of the Premier League is no true litmus test. But his willingness to change and adapt to the ever-changing flow of a game was in full effect.
Players deserve more than unfair narrative
From the first whistle, the commentators were keen to perpetuate the myth that Goodison Park did not want to see Everton win. Granted, the atmosphere was nowhere near the intensity of the wins over Arsenal and Manchester United, but the evening kick-off came after a pair of results that confirmed the Blues would finish fifth. Even then, the Blues were urging their team forward following the second. City did not leave as heroes to the home support, but to boos and anger at their time-wasting tactics – more fool anybody who didn't. Nobody should dare question the players, either. Ross Barkley was phenomenal, playing with intensity; Steven Naismith, though he suffered a difficult afternoon, never stopped trying. After a long season, played with such vigour, to start to feel the strain is inevitable.
Ross Barkley is a special talent - but we knew it already
Everybody knows what Barkley is capable of, but his strike in the first half exceeded all expectations. Opening up his body, and then his foot, he curled the ball beyond Joe Hart. It was as impressive aesthetically as it was in technique, a beautiful goal from a beautiful footballer.
He almost produced something even more special in the second half, running from the edge of his own box to the edge of City's, playing in Naismith, who saw his effort saved.
His overall game was excellent. He was the fourth best-passer in the side, making 78; he had more touches than any other Everton player and also
an astonishing nine dribbles.
This was a big game for Everton and Barkley produced a big moment. With Roy Hodgson watching, he couldn't have picked a better time. But forget England – Europe should very well beware next season.
No Champions League football for the Blues
It might be because it has been accepted as fact for a week, but this defeat confirmed it: no Champions League football for the Blues next season. No Camp Nou, Bernabeu, Allianz Arena or Stadio Olimpico. It's enough to make your heart go 'no'. But the platform is there. The challenge is to juggle the demands of Premier League football alongside the Europa League, and deal with potential trips to far-flung lands with endless early-afternoon kick offs on Sundays.
After a record points-tally and one of the best seasons since the title-winning campaign of 1987, to see it fall short of the ultimate prize is almost disappointing. With the carrot still danging, the hard work starts now.
Home campaign finishes with untimely defeat
One of the most pleasing aspects of Everton's season has been their home record – what a shame it ended with a defeat. They end with 13 wins, three draws and three defeats. Before the 3-2 defeat to City, their only losses were against Sunderland (with 10 men) and Crystal Palace (who blitzed them in the first half). Strong home form is the foundation of good campaigns; no surprise the Blues finish fifth in what – largely – has been an arena to avoid. Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United were beaten, while Liverpool rescued a point late on.
More is the pity that this excellent season couldn't end with another win against the likely Premier League champions.
Blues lose Champions League hopes with City defeat, despite Barkley wonder goal
May 3 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Ian Doyle
Home campaign ends in disappointment for Blues
Seconds after the whistle blew for half-time, the strains of Oasis song 'The Masterplan' blared out around Goodison. But whatever the backdrop to deeply curious and at times confusing evening, there was one glaring certainty. This result was not part of Roberto Martinez's Everton masterplan, not the manner in which a fine home campaign should have ended.
Hopes of Champions League football were finally dashed as the Blues were beaten 3-2 by Manchester City. That the loss bolstered City's Premier League title chances while severely damaging those of neighbours Liverpool will have been significant solace to some Evertonians.
But not Martinez. Everton deserve better than to end their season with a whimper, this their third defeat in fourth games just when opportunity knocked for a top-four finish.
At least Manchester United's defeat to Sunderland earlier in the day means Europa League football is assured next season. Overhauling Arsenal was always going to be a tough ask, but the Blues haven't helped themselves in recent weeks with poor defending and hapless own goals.
And there's no getting away from the fact the raucous Goodison atmosphere that recently helped frighten Arsenal and United into submission was noticeably absent here. City, having won only once here since 1992, would surely have been encouraged by the lack of hostility, particularly when the Blues threatened an unlikely comeback from 3-1 down through Romelu Lukaku's header midway through the second half. The one Everton player to emerge with real credit was the outstanding Ross Barkley, whose memorable opening goal gave hope of another famous Goodison victory over their wealthy rivals. In front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson, it surely must have confirmed the youngster's place in this summer's World Cup squad. Encouraging, too, for Hodgson and Everton was the sight of Phil Jagielka back in action for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury during the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea on February 22. Jagielka formed part of a back three alongside John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz, Sylvain Distin deemed fit enough for the bench after his own hamstring complaint. It was yet another tactical tweak from Martinez, who has had no qualm with testing the flexibility of his players during his debut campaign in charge. The 3-4-1-2 formation, often used by the Spaniard used while at Wigan Athletic, paired Lukaku and Steven Naismith with Barkley employed in a free attacking role behind the front two. Barkley's ineffective performance at Southampton last week saw him hauled off at half-time following a 45 minutes that encapsulated his recent indifferent form. But the 20-year-old made amends in sensational style to fire Everton into the lead on 11 minutes. A neat passing move ended with Naismith laying a Leighton Baines infield pass into the path of Barkley who, without breaking stride, curled a first-time shot from 25 yards that arced over City goalkeeper Joe Hart into the top corner. Barkley's seventh goal of the season, it was reminiscent to Wayne Rooney's thunderous strike against Arsenal back in 2002.
So open was the match from the first whistle, there had already been chances before the opener.
No City player was on hand to turn in a dangerous low Aguero cross, Naismith shot wide from a Baines ball, Javi Garcia should have done better than head straight at Tim Howard from Samir Nasri's right-wing corner and an overlapping Pablo Zabaleta thumped carelessly over from inside the area.
City responded to going behind with Yaya Toure holding off Leon Osman inside the area but curling off target. But the Blues and Barkley were close again on 21 minutes, the midfielder thrusting his way beyond two challenges before his run was ended by a forceful but fair challenge by Vincent Kompany just inside the area. Less than 60 seconds later, the Blues were pegged back as City took advantage of confusion in the home defence. Stones played Aguero onside to Toure's pass, leaving Jagielka and Antolin Alcaraz unable to close down before the City striker shot inside Tim Howard's near post. That was the last meaningful contribution from Aguero, who departed shortly afterwards with a suspected groin problem he had first brought to the attention of the City bench moments before scoring. Aguero's injury – and, perhaps more pertinently, the arrival from the bench of Fernandinho – more affected Everton than City, the hosts switching to a 4-1-4-1 line-up.
And more defensive blunders saw City ahead two minutes before the interval.
After Howard saved from Dzeko at his near post, James Milner was allowed time to retrieve possession and cross for Dzeko to send a free header into the bottom corner.
Yet only the brilliance of the finally-employed Hart prevented the Blues from levelling a minute into the second half. A barnstorming 50-yard run saw Barkley hold off Garcia before sliding the ball in to Naismith, whose shot was destined for the bottom corner until brilliantly turned behind by the City keeper. It proved a turning point as, a minute later, City extended their lead after yet more slack home defence, Fernandinho spraying the ball to Nasri at the far post for a cross tapped in by the unmarked Dzeko. That appeared to be that. But a drifting game was sparked into life on 65 minutes when, out of nothing, a Baines cross from the left was headed in by the stooping Lukaku with City wrongly claiming an offside. Howard saved from City substitute Aleksandar Kolarov but it took a lengthy injury break involved Dzeko to finally rouse the home crowd.
Substitute Gerard Deulofeu drew a near post save from Hart after magical play from Barkley in the build-up but the equaliser, like a top-four finish, proved a step too far for Martinez's men.
EVERTON (3-4-1-2) Howard; Stones, Jagielka (Deulofeu 67), Alcaraz; Coleman, McCarthy, Osman (McGeady 83), Baines; Barkley; Naismith, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Hibbert, Distin, Garbutt, Ledson.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Garcia, Toure (Kolarov 66); Milner, Aguero (Fernandinho 28), Nasri (Silva 75); Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Negredo, Jovetic. BOOKINGS: Garcia and Demichelis (both dissent).
REFEREE: Lee Probert.
Lee Carsley: Blues don't owe Liverpool any favours
May 4 2014 Liverpool Echo
Blues put everything in against City
Despite what some people might have hinted it was obvious that all of Everton’s players gave 100% against Manchester City and it’s insulting to suggest otherwise.
If Liverpool are to win the Premier League then it will be down to what they have done not what favours they might get from elsewhere. We started off brightly with a great goal from Ross Barkley but I must admit that the atmosphere with Goodison Park seemed strangely subdued.
I think without saying it out loud, the Evertonians said what they wanted to say.
It would have been different if there were still 10 games to go but it’s obvious what the implications would have been from an Everton victory and the cheers were almost followed by an ‘oh no, what have we done?’ from the stands. You can’t take anything away from Manchester City though because this was always going to be a tough ask. I think the whole atmosphere would have been completely different if we’d still have had a realistic chance of finishing fourth but in our hearts we knew we weren’t going to catch Arsenal now. It was intriguing to see the three at the back system for the first time. I know that it’s a formation Roberto Martinez used a lot at Wigan and he likes it and although he’s not really used it at Everton before, it might be something we see more of in the future given that Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines would be ideally suited to operate as wing backs. Everyone is recognising Coleman's talents now IT WAS great to see Seamus Coleman being recognised by his fellow players by being named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
It’s particularly pleasing to be given an award from your fellow pros as it shows that you’re really well thought of and it’s not just some corporate trinket. It shows just how well regarded Seamus is now not just by the people at our club but the footballing world at large.
Before this season people were perhaps questioning Seamus’ ability to be a top class right-back.
We all knew that he had plenty of attacking abilities but there were concerns over his defensive capabilities. I think he’s put all those doubts to bed now though. While his seven goals have caught the eye, he’s tightened up at the back too and he’s now a much more solid performer in his own half of the pitch as well as going forward. He and Leighton Baines are shining examples of modern full-backs and Leighton can count himself unlucky not getting in the Premier League Team of the Year himself given that he’s had another great season. They’re very effective as a pair and when one of them goes forward down one side of the pitch to put in a cross, you often find the other has gone into the box and that’s a rare gift when it comes to most full-backs.
Ian Doyle on the end of tiki-taka, the loan rules, who will go to Brazil and more
May 04, 2014 13:08
Columnist looks at the talking points in sport this week
Football’s favoured romantic trend is coming under severe scrutiny in the wake of Real Madrid’s comprehensive Champions League dismantling of Bayern Munich this week.
Over the two legs, Bayern
1,361 passes, Real 563.
Real strolled to a 5-0 aggregate triumph.
“Don’t worry, Bayern can still win on away passes,” said one Twitter wag during last Tuesday’s second leg, highlighting the criticism Pep Guardiola’s side attracted over the course of the tie.
Passing is great. The purists love it and the ball will always move faster than any player.
But defending is also part of the game. And if you continually attempt to walk the ball into the goal against a well-drilled back line, invariably it’s going to end in tears – and frustration for the millions screaming “shoot!” at their television screens. It’s the stick with which Arsenal have been beaten for years. And Liverpool were facing similar accusations last Sunday when their title hopes were dealt a major blow. Yet the performances of Real and Chelsea do not stand comparison.
Resilient in defence, powerful in midfield and frighteningly fast and clinical up front, the Spaniards are a counter-attacking team without peer.
It’s not better than tiki-taka. Or worse. It’s just different. And no less effective.
Chelsea, meanwhile, were set up simply to keep Liverpool out and hope for something at the other end. Another approach. And another that, on the day, worked.
Like Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho was making the most of the players he chose to have at his disposal which, given the eye-watering amount Chelsea and Real have spent to build their squads, is particularly sizeable. Real have the two most expensive players in history – Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo – and are playing to their strengths. Which manager wouldn’t?
It wasn’t that Bayern were awful. It was just that Real were better.
Brendan Rodgers and Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez are huge advocates of keeping the ball.
Neither has the resource to match that of Real and Chelsea. Yet the league table suggests their methods are working. It’s not the first time people have claimed possession football is passing into history.
The same was said when Mourinho’s Inter beat Guardiola’s Barcelona in the Champions League in 2010 (Barca won the competition the following year) and when Spain lost to Switzerland at the last World Cup (they went on to win it).
Tiki-taka isn’t dead.
Instead, extinguished at the Allianz Arena last Tuesday was the curious notion among some that there is a single approach to football that will always prevail.
Sorry Roberto, the Premier League are right about loan players
Gareth Barry could only look on as Everton battled with Manchester City yesterday.
But if Roberto Martinez has his way, such enforced absences will be a thing of the past.
The Everton boss believes players on loan should be able to face their parent club. After all, UEFA ruled Thibaut Courtois was free to appear for Atletico Madrid last week despite being on loan from their Champions League semi-final opponents Chelsea.
Double standards? Of course.
But the Premier League are right in this regard.
What if Barry was keen to continue at City next season, yet was put in a position to score a goal against them that could potentially harm their title chances?
You doubt his team-mates nor the club would be too keen to have him back.
Sure, Barry is nevertheless able to indirectly affect City’s title chances by appearing against their main rivals.
But the Premier League rules not only protect the integrity of the competition, they protect the player out on loan.
Looking towards a new home for the Blues
The news Walton Hall Park has emerged as the preferred choice for any possible new Everton stadium has been met with cautious optimism by Blues fans.
Whether it is all just lip service – coming just a week after Liverpool unveiled plans of a redeveloped Anfield – remains to be seen.
But there was one key quote from Blues chief executive Robert Elstone that stood out.
“What’s critical in terms of bringing this to fruition is how much this will cost us,” he said.
The reality is, the less it costs Everton, the more likely it is to happen.
And that will probably mean traditionalists having to bite their tongues in the name of progress.
Naming rights, private sector partners, regeneration funds, nothing will be ruled out in the search for cash.
Nor should it.
Goodison, for all it’s undoubted charm, is holding Everton back in terms of off-field development.
No doubt some fans will be unhappy with whatever the Blues board decides. But the biggest crime will be for Everton to do nothing at all.
Selection headache goes on for Hodgson
So Roy Hodgson already knows his squad for England’s latest tilt at the World Cup.
But if there’s one guarantee, it’s that the party that flies out to Brazil will be somewhat different from the one he intends to name on Monday week.
Andros Townsend, a hero of qualification, has joined Jay Rodriguez and Theo Walcott on the sidelines. Kyle Walker and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are doubts, while suggestions Jack Wilshere could be called up despite not being fully fit are, frankly, worrying.
History tells us that whenever a player is called up in such a manner, it almost always ends in recrimination. Previous tournaments are littered with last-minute England absences, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville among the more recent.
It means Merseyside’s hopefuls – Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley – all have a major chance of joining the city’s expected call-ups. Provided they can safely negotiate the final few days of the season, of course.
Zut Alors, Le Tour
Some people just aren’t happy. You’d have thought that the recognition of holding one of the world’s great sporting events would be a source of civic pride. But one Harrogate resident is alarmed the Tour de France will be going through their Yorkshire town this summer.
“You are not welcome in this town in these numbers,” they write in the local newspaper. “Those still under the impression that they will have any kind of liberty while Le Tour is in town, think again.”
A slight over-reaction, perhaps? Then again, maybe it’s the natural response of Yorkshire people at the prospect of their town being taken over by foreigners.
Well, that’s what Jeremy Clarkson might think.
Stuck in a rut?
The grown men who should know better were in a bit of a tizzy this week when it emerged somebody’s World Cup sticker album had gone missing. It proved to be a false alarm, thus preserving their shiny Ivory Coast badge and portrait of photogenic Croatian midfielder Domagoj Vida. But really...
So here’s a playground summary for anyone over the age of 30 (well, 20) who is attempting to fill a Panini album. Childish tendencies? Got. Life? Not got.
Urge to start acting like an adult again? Need.
Martinez: Young Everton FC stars Ross Barkley and John Stones will be ready for the World Cup, but we must look after them
May 4 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Manager urging caution as national coach Roy Hodgson looked on from the stands at Goodison Park
Roberto Martinez has urged caution over his two young English stars making a late bid for World Cup selection this summer. Ross Barkley scored a wonder goal against Manchester City on Saturday as part of an exceptional all-round display, while John Stones produced another polished and mature display in defence.
England manager Roy Hodgson was at Goodison Park to see the two youngsters shine, and while Blues boss Martinez would be happy to see both youngsters board the plane for Brazil, he also expressed a note of caution. “I've said many times I respect so much Roy Hodgson's vision and whatever he will decide will be the right thing,” said Martinez. “If Ross is called up he'll be ready. He can offer something quite unique in the English camp. I don't think there's another English player of the quality of Ross. “But in the same manner he's a very young man and I think we all have a responsibility to look after him and support him, give him a little bit of time to fulfil his potential. “Whatever the England manager decides will be a good decision because the character of Ross is ready to embrace anything which comes his way and nothing fazes him. “In the same way if he is not at the World Cup we're going to use the summer to regenerate him and refresh him to be ready for next season.” Martinez was equally guarded in his praise for Stones. Earlier in the day BBC pundit and Sunday Echo columnist Mark Lawrenson had declared that Stones was ready now for the pressures of a World Cup campaign and urged Roy Hodgson to take him to Brazil.
Martinez added: “I think John has surprised everyone. Martinez added: “I think John has surprised everyone. “He is someone that needs that challenge and the games that he has played for us this season he has been phenomenal. I think he's ready to embrace whatever challenge comes his way.
“But we need to be careful also. “Every team that has two or three good English performers we all want them to go to the Brazil World Cup – but the England manager knows exactly what he needs and what he wants. “It's clear that a young man like John Stones will be an incredible asset for English football, if not now then for years to come. He's already a captain for the Under-21s and he's a well known player for his performances in the Premier League. “they benefit from whatever experiences comes their way.
“But if they don't go to the World Cup they will be involved in the Under-21s and as soon as they finish that tournament in Toulon we need to regenerate them and make sure they're ready for another demanding season.” Neither Barkley nor Stones could inspire Everton to the victory which would have kept alive their fading Champions League hopes. But with a Europa League campaign confirmed Martinez stressed he still wants victory from the Blues final match of the season at Hull City next weekend. “I am extremely proud but we need to finish the final game because it's important that we try to finish fifth. That is the real objective now,” he added.
“We have the opportunity to thank the away supporters for the support we have had all season with a good performance and if we can grab that fifth place it's been an incredible season.
“And more importantly to be able fight for fourth place up to the final whistle today I think has been a really successful story. “I thought that for spells we were the better side, and but for that little bit of luck the scoreline could have been very different. “The performances of the two teams were more level that the scoreline reflected and probably that's the difference between winning the title and not, when you can score three goals out of nothing really." Martinez believed that the injury to the scorer of City's first goal Sergio Aguero actually aided the visitors. I'd be happy to see him go. I always feel that representing your country is an incredible moment. John is pretty mature and the young generation that we have at the club now like Ross Barkley, James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and John Stones are all very mature and whatever comes their way they try to be as professional as they can to help the team. And We were playing with a back three and we were coping really well with the two strikers, and when we went to a four the only thing we needed was a little better decision-making of when to go into the final third,” he added. “City had two strikers on the bench but didn't replace Aguero with a striker. It was a very good switch and showed they gave us a lot of respect, but it was a switch that affected the game more than you would have thought in an attacking sense. “That was a bit unfortunate because everything we had prepared and worked on was based on that. “I thought it was a fascinating game from a tactical point of view.
“With the best chance of the second half Joe Hart made, for me, the save of the season. It was a difficult ball, down into the angle, then it went down to the other end and we conceded a goal at a very important moment. “I would say that minute was key to the game. “But I do feel that Sergio Aguero coming off, from a tactical point of view, changed everything that we planned and made things a little bit easier for Manchester City.”
Everton boss Roberto Martinez: Ross Barkley can be England's World Cup hero
ROBERTO MARTINEZ is backing Everton youngster Ross Barkley to be England's ace in the pack at this summer's World Cup.
By Rhys Turrell 4th May 2014
Barkley has enjoyed a spectacular breakthrough season at Goodison Park, and looks certain to be in Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil. He netted a wonderful opener for the Toffees in their 3-2 defeat to Manchester City yesterday. “He is a phenomenal talent and the best England talent I have seen and the character that goes along with that quality is special” That result ended their hopes of Champions League qualification, but Martinez is sure the club's future is looking bright with the likes of Barkley ready to drive the Merseysiders on. "The concerning aspect is that I didn't even get surprised by it as you get used to that type of quality," the Spaniard said. "I thought the goal was a magnificent piece of skill from Ross. "He is a phenomenal talent and the best England talent I have seen and the character that goes along with that quality is special. "I respect (England manager) Roy Hodgson's vision and his ideas for the World Cup and whatever he decides will be the right thing.
"If Ross is called up he will be ready, he offers something unique and there is no one in the England camp like Ross. "At the same time he is a young man and we need to look after him. The character of Ross is ready to embrace anything that comes his way but if he is not at the World Cup we will use the summer to regenerate him and refresh him for the next campaign."
Martinez admitted his disappointment on missing out on a top four spot, but revealed his delight at how his debut season has gone. "It is disappointing because Champions League (qualification) was the dream we had at the beginning of the season," he added. If we get fifth that will be a phenomenal step forward and we have to make sure we can embrace those demands and take our name where it belongs in European competition. "In the last 20 minutes we gave it a proper go, showed great character, but we showed an incredible bravery from the first second to the last.
"I thought we didn't deserve to lose the game and everyone who watched it understood if anyone was questioning our integrity as a club they had no reason to do it. "The effort of the players was clear to see and the way we celebrated Ross Barkley's goal was as big a roar as there has been at Goodison this season. "I think it is clear we tried absolutely everything to beat Manchester City."
Everton 2 City 3: Stuart Brennan's match verdict
May 4 2014
By Stuart Brennan
Manchester Evening News
City strengthened their Premier League title claim with a crucial win at Goodison Park on Saturday - here's what our Blues reporter thought of the game.
Wouldn't it be nice - and beneficial to the health of their fans - if City could just sweep majestically over the finish line like Sheikh Mansour’s Lamborghini? Instead, at Goodison, they ended up sputtering to the end, with both doors falling off, like Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races.
Not that the exuberant travelling Blues minded too much. These days ‘typical City’ still means doing things the hard way, but eventually getting there, rather than making a mess of it.
At this stage of the season, you do not get points for style, only for winning football matches.
And, while the win at Everton – only City’s second in the last 16 attempts – was hardly convincing, it was full of grit and guts and contained moments of high quality and nerveless deliberation.
With Sergio Aguero off, and likely out of the rest of the season, Yaya Toure having to restrict himself to 65 minutes and David Silva playing a defensive role as Everton tried to lay siege to their goal, it was painful purgatory for the travelling faithful. They were looking to the big players, City’s truly world-class talents, to make the difference, and they did just that as Toure and Aguero combined beautifully to create and finish the equaliser. And then Edin Dzeko, who frustrates and delights in equal measure, and has an irresistible penchant for scoring dramatic and important goals, took a hand with two more. But it was another big player, one who has had to prove his character and fight his corner this season when surrounded by doubters and dropped by the manager, who made the difference. The game pivoted on the events of 88 seconds, shortly into the second half, with the Blues leading 2-1. Ross Barkley strode purposefully out of defence for the Toffees and slipped a pass to Steve Naismith, who shrugged off the attentions of Pablo Zabaleta and was suddenly in on goal.
The Scotland international did everything right, sliding his shot low to Joe Hart’s left, but the save produced by the England stopper was quite stunning, as he somehow swept a hand down and got enough contact to divert the ball around the post. Everton boss Roberto Martinez described it as the ‘save of the season’ and he was not employing the exaggerated style of a manager making excuses for his team’s defeat – it was a genuine and accurate appraisal. The significance of that moment was also not lost on Hart’s City team-mates, with Toure even giving the goalkeeper some of the credit for Dzeko’s second goal that followed shortly afterwards. “The save Joe made at the beginning of the second half was brilliant,” said Toure. “That gave us a psychological boost and we scored just after that. “Joe is a massive keeper and he can take a lot of the credit for us winning the game.” It was a madcap kind of contest, full of curious talking points, not least the bizarre Mexican stand-off between Dzeko and referee Lee Probert as the Bosnian lay on the floor after falling awkwardly on his shoulder. The Everton fans howled their derision, Probert boldly declared the City man was not injured without calling for a second opinion from someone better qualified and Dzeko called his bluff by remaining prone. The upshot was a yellow card for the striker and six added minutes of peeking through their fingers for City fans. The torture began after 11 minutes, when Barkley gave further evidence of his burgeoning ability with a goal of supreme quality.
There appeared to be little on for the young Englishman, who was the best player on the park on the day, but he shaped a curving dipping shot from 35 yards which hurtled beyond Hart and into the far top corner. It was a sickening reminder of City’s unhappy habit over the last two seasons of being on the receiving end of Goal of the Month contenders. The Blues had not looked like breaking down a resolute Everton defence which had taken Manuel Pellegrini by surprise by lining up in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 line-up, after City had trained all week to take on the usual 4-4-2. With danger men Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman pushing forward, the Blues could find little width, while Toure was crowded by the three Everton midfielders and City’s strikers out-numbered. It needed a touch of class and they got one on 22 minutes as Toure found a yard of daylight, seamlessly took a pass from Samir Nasri and moved it on to Aguero. His burst of pace left Phil Jagielka and Antolin Alaraz floundering and he smashed a shot inside Tim Howard’s near post. Aguero then limped off with a groin problem, leaving the stage to his co-striker Dzeko. He rose majestically to head the second from a superbly shaped James Milner cross and City had the half-time lead.
When Hart’s save and Dzeko’s second goal, neatly created by Nasri, made it 3-1, it seemed that the Blues might just cruise to a crucial victory. It was never truly going to happen, was it?
Toure trotted off to ensure he did not aggravate the adductor muscle injury he recently suffered and City began to flag. When Baines found some rare space out on the left flank, his cross was top-class and Lukaku darted in to head home and with 25 minutes to go the lead was slimmer than a supermodel. With Barkley buzzing and sub Gerard Deulofeu sparking, Everton attacked, but City were resolute and, with Martin Demichelis and Vincent Kompany glueing the resistance together, they saw it through. The celebration at the end was raw and heart-felt, but no-one was kidding themselves. Two more games, six point to play for. Sounds easy – but this is City, and nothing is ever easy!
Everton FC skipper Phil Jagielka wants to see Blues build on momentum which means a return to Europe
May 4 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
...says club must strengthen if they are to flourish on a number of fronts
Phil Jagielka has hailed Everton’s “exciting” return to European action next season – providing they can either keep or replace their clutch of loan stars.
The Blues are practically guaranteed a fifth-place finish after the weekend’s results, despite seeing their slim hopes of the top four ended after a 3-2 defeat by Manchester City .
It means Roberto Martinez’s men will return to the continent in next season’s Europa League, for the first time since the 2009/10 campaign. And skipper Jagielka, who made his comeback from injury on Saturday, said he welcomes the challenge but believes the club must strengthen if they are to flourish on a number of fronts. He said: “We’d need to replace Gareth (Barry), Rom (Lukaku) and Gerard (Deulofeu) if they move on. We can’t flourish otherwise. “It’s difficult to bring in players of the same quality but that’s the manager’s job. “We’ll be the first to thank the lads if they decide either not to extend their loans or against coming back next season. We’ll thank them for what they’ve done because we knew that was the situation when we signed them; that we maybe only had them for a season. “So now we need to unearth a few more gems or twist people’s arms to get them to stay next season. “I think with the squad we’ve got, we wouldn’t accept performing well in one competition and being disastrous in the other one. That’s the type of lads we are. And with the right people coming in over the summer, and a bit more depth to the squad, it’s an exciting time for us.” Along with their loan trio, Everton brought in Joel Robles, Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz and James McCarthy last summer, and Jagielka believes the club can compete for a top- four spot again next term if Martinez’s trawl of the transfer market is equally productive this time.
“I’ve seen enough to suggest we could challenge for top four again next season but then it’s the same again, it’s the whole question of how we do in the transfer market; in terms of keeping hold of our players and bringing in a few,” he said. “We had a good summer transfer window last year with the loan signings and it’s important the manager is just as active before the start of the season to keep the buzz going. We’ll be in an extra competition next year so we need strengthening just to cope with the rigours of playing twice a week.” Jagielka believes the club can compete in the transfer market, but he is realistic about the restraints on spending in comparison to other clubs in the top flight. “We’re not a club that has a bottomless pit of money,” he said. “We can’t get all the sponsors in and go and spend £100m year in year out. We’ve got a budget, and the fact of the matter is that if we’d tried to buy Rom, it may have been £15 or £20m.We may have been able to afford that.
“Gerry (Deulofeu), I don’t think they’d have sold him. Gareth we probably could have bought for £2m or £3m, so the players we brought in on loan weren’t massively out of our reach but I think to be able to build season upon season, we’d probably have to sell a player like we did with Felli. You have to sell someone for £25m to fund a few signings. “The club is in a pretty healthy sate but we know we can’t go and spend £50/£60m every transfer window to be as strong, on paper at least, as some of the other teams in the league.” The England international’s focus will soon switch to Brazil, where he is hoping to be one of Roy Hodgson’s first-choice central defenders this summer, but beyond that he insists his club manager is well-placed to guide the Toffees through a congested season of fixtures next term. “Obviously the weeks do become a bit longer but if you’re playing in most of the games then it doesn’t matter, you can’t play in enough games,” he said.
“It’s when you’re not getting much game time that it becomes a little more frustrating travelling all over Europe. The way the manager is, I think he’ll deal with it very well as regards the squad and he’ll plan ahead for what players will play in what games. He knows he’ll need a few more players in and I think he’ll be the man to be able to balance Premier League football and Europa League.
“If you speak to the fans they love it; their nights out, the football, just the whole experience. The players like it too.”
Everton boss Roberto Martinez unsurprised by Ross Barkley's brilliance as Spaniard urges Roy Hodgson to take him to Brazil
By Carl Markham, Press Association
May 4 2014 Daily Mail
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is no longer surprised by anything midfielder Ross Barkley produces and believes the youngster will give England something unique at this summer's World Cup. The 20-year-old scored a stunning opener in the 3-2 defeat at home to Manchester City which ended the Toffees' chances of qualifying for the Champions League. That breathtaking strike only enhanced his chances of making the squad for Brazil but Martinez appeared to be the only one inside Goodison Park who did not marvel at the first-time effort from 25 yards. The concerning aspect is that I didn't even get surprised by it as you get used to that type of quality,' said the Spaniard. 'I thought the goal was a magnificent piece of skill from Ross. He is a phenomenal talent and the best England talent I have seen and the character that goes along with that quality is special.
'He finished (the season at Goodison) with another incredibly special strike and we need to give him good care because he is special. 'I respect (England manager) Roy Hodgson's vision and his ideas for the World Cup and whatever he decides will be the right thing. 'If Ross is called up he will be ready, he offers something unique and there is no one in the England camp like Ross. 'At the same time he is a young man and we need to look after him. The character of Ross is ready to embrace anything that comes his way but if he is not at the World Cup we will use the summer to regenerate him and refresh him for the next campaign.' Everton are all-but guaranteed a fifth-place finish as Tottenham are three points behind heading into the final game with a goal difference which is 19 worse than their rivals. Missing out on the top four is a blow, as for much of the season Everton put up a sustained challenge which only faltered in the final few games. Despite that Martinez, who when he took over from David Moyes in the summer was not predicted to do as well as he has, thinks the campaign can be judged a success. 'It is disappointing because Champions League (qualification) was the dream we had at the beginning of the season,' he added. 'If we get fifth that will be a phenomenal step forward and we have to make sure we can embrace those demands and take our name where it belongs in European competition.' Barkley's opener was celebrated wildly by Goodison Park, which dispelled the pre-match suggestion that Evertonians would be happy for their side in order to significantly damage the title hopes of local rivals Liverpool.
City hit back with goals from Sergio Aguero and two from Edin Dzeko before Romelu Lukaku's header set up a tense finale for the visitors. 'In the last 20 minutes we gave it a proper go, showed great character, but we showed an incredible bravery from the first second to the last,' said Martinez.
'I thought we didn't deserve to lose the game and everyone who watched it understood if anyone was questioning our integrity as a club they had no reason to do it. 'The effort of the players was clear to see and the way we celebrated Ross Barkley's goal was as big a roar as there has been at Goodison this season. 'I think it is clear we tried absolutely everything to beat Manchester City.'
Everton 2-3 Man City: Manuel Pellegrini's side head to top of the Premier League as Dzeko double helps edge out Toffees
By Rob Draper
May 5 2014 Daily Mail
Everton 2-3 Man City: Match Zone
So there is no curse and the bogey ground does not exist. Only once had Manchester City won at Goodison Park in their previous 16 attempts and this was supposedly the arena in which their championship challenge might falter. But talents such as Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri are no respecters of mystical old English traditions. Nor is a club that has seen more than £1billion lavished upon it since 2008. City forged a new reality at Goodison Park as the season that has ebbed and flowed like never before took what must surely be its final twist. Manchester City are champions elect. True, it wasn’t easy. In the end they stumbled across the line, hanging on for a 3-2 win. And Everton, who finally relinquished the struggle for Champions League football, never faltered in their efforts. There would be no easing off to prevent city rivals Liverpool from winning the title. To the end they pressed and harried City, pinning them back in the final minutes, inducing a nervous finale. Perhaps there was a degree less intensity in the Goodison atmosphere, knowing that defeat would damage Liverpool. But still the crowd roared their team on to the end and it always remained more raucous than the average Premier League ground. For all that, three points were accumulated by City and assuming they can now beat Aston Villa and West Ham at home - teams not known for their resilience once safe from relegation - City will be champions, barring a goal flurry of epic proportions from Liverpool. ‘It was a very big test,’ said Pellegrini, contemplating a first league title in his European career. ‘Today was difficult because of the history in this stadium. It was a decisive moment but we haven’t finished yet. We have just won one of the three games that we must win.’ It came at a cost though. Sergio Aguero scored City’s opening goal and limped off with a recurrence of his hamstring injury. Pellegrini did not know whether he will appear again this season.
Heavy though that blow is, it appears as if the hard work has now been done. There would be heart-stopping moments for City. With the game poised at 2-1, Joe Hart made a crucial save from Steven Naismith that kept his side ahead – ‘the save of the season,’ said Roberto Martinez.
‘It was a fascinating game,’ said Martinez. ‘And I don’t think we deserved to lose it. I think if anyone was questioning our integrity as a football club, had no reason to do it. The effort, the character of the players and the intention of winning the game was clear from the first second to the last. And the roar that celebrated Ross’s goal was the biggest of the season.’ Martinez is nothing if not bold, bringing Phil Jagielka back from injury and immediately asking the England centre half to play in the middle of a three, with John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz alongside him. Fraught with risk, the strategy also created space, with City struggling with the extra numbers in midfield. That said, the opening goal on 11 minutes still required a moment of brilliance, the ball sweeping across field to Leighton Baines, who drilled it into Naismith. His first touch returned the ball to Ross Barkley, who, in front of England manager Roy Hodgson, Barkley first time a terrific, curling, dipping shot with pace from 25 yards into the top corner. It was a statement of intent. Everton were now passing the ball freely around City the title appeared to be slipping away. Pellegrini found a solution partly through luck and partly through the excellence of his individuals. On 22 minutes a delightful ball from Yaya Toure invited Sergio Aguro to run at goal. The Argentine set his sights and struck low and hard inside Tim Howard’s near post. Aguero then departed and with Yaya Toure now free to attack while Fernandinho held back with Javi Garcia, City had more solidity. Now it was Everton struggling to keep up and Martinez conceded the change disrupted their plan. On 43 minutes James Milner sent in a looping cross for Edin Dzeko, who rose far above any competing defender and, with neck muscles straining, he produced a header of power and grace which was perfectly directed into the bottom corner. Barkley would not give up the fight, producing a superb run and pass for Naismith just after half time that appeared set for equaliser, inducing the save that proved so decisive from Hart. For within minutes City had put some distance between themselves and their opponents. Samir Nasri was the protagonist, toying with Stones in the box before delivering a neat cross for Dzeko, who had again found space, to turn the ball in for 3-1 on 49 minutes. City could sense the coronation now but Martinez responded, reverting to a back four. And when his side responded on 65 minutes, they looked like the old-fashioned English Everton. Baines sent a cross from the left and Romelu Lukaku met it, heading in off the post. Vincent Kompany protested that Naismith had drifted offside but to no avail. Off came Yaya Toure, another blow, and City appeared vulnerable once more. There were twenty five minutes to play and plenty that could go wrong. Ultimately though, despite Barkley’s energy and mazy Gerard Deloufeu run at the end, Everton’s season ran out of momentum. By contrast, City’s is just gathering itself for a final celebration. Everton: Howard, Stones, Jagielka (Deulofeu 66'), Alcaraz, Coleman, McCarthy, Osman (McGeady 82'), Baines, Lukaku, Naismith, Barkley.
Subs bot used: Robles, Hibbert, Distin, Garbutt, Ledson.
Goals: Barkley 11', Lukaku 65'
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Milner, Javi Garcia, Toure (Kolarov 66'), Nasri (Silva 74'), Dzeko, Aguero (Fernandinho 28').
Subs not used: Lescott, Negredo, Pantilimon, Jovetic.
Booked: Javi Garcia, Demichelis, Dzeko
Goals: Aguero 24', Dzeko 43' & 48'
Referee: Lee Probert
Greg O'Keeffe's verdict: Everton 2-3 Manchester City - This season is the start of something special
May 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Greg O’Keeffe
The Echo's Everton reporter gives his take on the last game of the season at Goodison Park
Some weren’t quite sure they wanted their own team to win.
Many were uncertain if they could ever actually welcome a defeat for the Blues, regardless of the unpalatable ramifications. It was that kind of day in L4. But in the end, a conflicted Goodison faithful found common ground in what they could categorically agree on; that their team had harboured no such mixed feelings, and provided a compelling performance that promised so much for the future. Such was the peculiar dilemma beforehand, some Evertonians, desperate not to see their side hand Liverpool the title initiative, even joked about copying Manchester City supporters’ Poznan. It was never going to happen – only a fool would have turned their back on an absorbing first half when Roberto Martinez once again proved why his tactical acumen has been such a blessing this season. It is Martinez who has given Ross Barkley the self-belief that he can be the best English midfielder in the Premier League. Likewise the manager has imbued John Stones with the conviction that he, still only 19, can cope with anything at this level and flourish.
Both played their part in a display which was brave and edifying, even if it wasn’t the perfection which was required. The Toffees had to contend without key man Gareth Barry , without one of their defensive lynch-pins in Sylvain Distin, and without the in-form Kevin Mirallas – all compounded by the fact that the visitors’ staggering wealth of talent and such gilded incentives on offer. Ultimately, Everton couldn’t do it. Some slack defending at crunch moments, and the brilliance of Joe Hart in the opposition goal, meant they had to swallow their second defeat of the season at City’s hands. But this performance emphasised how far Martinez’s men have come since they started brightly only to fizzle out and lose 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium back in October.
If Manuel Pellegrini’s lavishly gifted team go on to lift league honours, the record books will state that the Toffees gave them six points along the way. But despite what some desperately disappointed Kopites may feel, there was nothing given without a fight, or more accurately a balanced and stylish duel, on Saturday. For the opening 20 minutes it was Everton who played with the freedom, confidence and conviction of title contenders. Shorn of Barry’s vigilance just in front of the back four, Martinez reverted to using the three at the back formation which he favoured at Wigan and his players showed how adept they are at implementing his instructions. Martinez is clearly a coach with clarity of instruction, and Everton responded as one. They had an early lead, thanks to a moment of individual brilliance from Barkley. Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith used the width of the pitch to combine smartly and slip the ball to the midfielder who had found space outside the area. Few can do what he did next; bending a glorious strike into the top left corner of Hart’s goal in a precocious moment of genius reminiscent of Wayne Rooney’s memorable effort against Arsenal. Hart and Vincent Kompany could only shake their heads, as Goodison roared – yes roared – in delight. What can you do about that? The home crowd were thrilled by that moment, and their side’s ensuing boldness, as any lingering mixed feelings faded for the majority. Everton were moving the ball around so well it was all the visiting City supporters could do to exhort their men to keep going while Oles even emanated from the home ends. One passage of play, when even the most eagle-eyed press box stattos lost count of the number of passes between players in royal blue, was a pleasure to behold. What wasn’t so pleasurable to watch was Everton’s defending for at least two of City’s goals. Antolin Alcaraz could have done better with the first, rashly committing himself to try and stop Yaya Toure’s run and thus allowing the Ivorian to tee-up Sergio Aguero in the process. But much of the credit has to go to a scintillating run and finish from Aguero, even as he was about to come off with an injury. The goal just before the break that saw the visitors edge ahead was far more preventable. Impressive as ever, James Milner managed to get a cross in, and nobody picked up Edin Dzeko, allowing the big Bosnian to score with a perfectly-placed header. Frustrating, but by then the balance of the game had already shifted. Aguero’s withdrawal led to the introduction of the impressive Fernandinho, and suddenly Everton lost their numerical advantage in midfield which had let them dominate, with Barkley able to use his dynamic runs and movement to find space. Nevertheless, it still took that staggering save from Hart to prevent the Blues equalising after Barkley had set off on one of his unstoppable runs, barrelling past opponents with a frightening lend of power, pace and poise, to slip in Naismith. The Scot’s precise attempt was destined for the bottom corner until the England goalkeeper got a fingertip to it. It was a turning point. Ensuing chances were few and far between for the Blues as City worked with a discipline and vigour that underlined their lofty ambitions. Then Barry’s absence really told as Fernandinho was given too much time to pick out Samir Nasri in the area with a wonderful ball, and the Frenchman got the better of Stones – a rare occurrence – to put it on a plate for Dzeko. If Dzeko showed his finer instincts with his finishing, he endeared himself to nobody in blue with some woeful gamesmanship and time-wasting as Everton tried to fight back. Lee Probert rightly booked the striker as he lay face down claiming a shoulder problem which, given his melodramatic antics, seemed to be a dislocation, but later mysteriously eased. Romelu Lukaku had already offered hope of a revival by then, stooping to convert Baines’ perfect cross. If this was to be the Belgian’s last Goodison display, though, it was far from his best and added further fuel to the debate over whether, even if inclined to stay, he is worth £20m. That’s for Martinez to ruminate over. He’ll do so knowing he has the backing of Everton’s supporters regardless. The Old Lady was back to its noisy best for the second half, and the volume levels were cranked up further for the manager’s emergence, clutching baby daughter Luella, during a lap of appreciation. Evertonians appreciate everything about the Catalan, even after a defeat which ended their bid for Champions League football next season.
This time last year the players formed a guard of honour and Goodison waved farewell to David Moyes, who had just guided the club to sixth place. It was the end of an era. A year later, in his first campaign, Martinez has steered Everton to fifth and a record points total.
The season may be over barring a dead rubber at Hull. But this is only the start of something special.
EFC analysis: why Barkley must go to Brazil
May 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Kristian Walsh
After his performance against City, it is not a case of 'if', but a case of who he replaces
Ross Barkley takes on Vincent Kompany. Picture by Gareth Jones
No sooner had Ross Barkley's brilliant curler caressed the back of the net and the nation's thoughts turned to Brazil. It was a goal some of their greats would have been proud of, after all.
In a World Cup year, the focus on who will make the squad of 23 can grate. There are competitions to qualify for and trophies to win. But with the Blues' season effectively finished and fifth-place guaranteed, the talk following the 3-2 defeat was of Barkley and Brazil. It was hard to discuss anything else. The goal was phenomenal, but so was his overall performance, belligerent and battling until the end. At the start of the second half, he ran the full length of the pitch before slipping in Steven Naismith – something that would have been celebrated even more if the Scot had scored. After the game, Everton FC boss Roberto Martinez said the 20-year-old was ready to play at the World Cup – but also conceded it may not happen just yet. “If Ross is called up, then he will be ready,” said Martinez. “He can offer something unique. I don’t think there’s anybody else in the England squad who has his qualities. “The character of Ross is he is ready to embrace anything that comes his way, nothing will faze him. But we have a responsibility to look after him. If he doesn’t go, we will give him time to regenerate in the summer. “I respect so much Roy Hodgson’s vision. Whatever he decides will be the right thing.” We have been here before. Following the 4-1 defeat to Arsenal – when Barkley starred with a driving run to set up the Blues' goal that afternoon – the ECHO published an analysis of whether the midfielder was bound for Brazil.
A lot has changed since early March. Barkley himself has suffered mixed fortunes, scoring a wonderful solo strike against Newcastle but also being substituted at half time against Fulham and Sunderland. But of those perceived to be his rivals, only Adam Lallana – shortlisted for PFA Player of the Year – has confirmed his place in the England squad. Andros Townsend will miss the finals through injury, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has played 90 minutes just twice this season.
New rivals have emerged – notably Raheem Sterling of Liverpool – but he could make the squad ahead of the more experienced Frank Lampard or Michael Carrick. The clamour behind Barkley to Brazil stems from his unique approach to football. He is a central player who can run with the ball at pace and drift past players with a simple drop of the shoulder. He has completed
more dribbles than any other Englishman bar Sterling with 80 – predominately used out wide until recently - while his next closest rival Lallana has dribbled the ball 70 times. This is not the English football of past decades - and that is what makes Barkley, and his young contemporaries, so exciting.
A lot depends on how Hodgson lines his side up. If he adopts the 4-2-3-1 system as he has throughout his reign as England boss, Barkley could find himself squeezed out of the first team, at least – Wayne Rooney looks set to play behind Daniel Sturridge, while Lallana is more adept at playing wide than Barkley. A 4-4-2 diamond could see Barkley flourish at the tip of the midfield four. His direct running and ability to drop into space is key, and he showed his ability to take up good positions when he side defends, waiting to spring a counter attack. Hodgson is unlikely to play that system, however. At some point – not at World Cup 2014, admittedly – England will have to accommodate Barkley. It could be in a deeper role. His passing statistics make for solid reading, with an 85% accuracy, 31 successful passes and 0.75 key passes per game. The defensive side of his game may not be what's required of a second holding midfielder, but the game feels like it is changing – what he does on the ball will be of far more use than what he does without. For now, he could be used as the surprise substitute – and an unwelcome surprise he would be to some of the world's best. While Lallana is a fine player, he is an attacker who fits the continental mould of having excellent technique and intelligence on the ball – no bad thing, and the reason he will be one of the most sought-after players this summer. Barkley, however, offers something difference. That swagger; that arrogance that Martinez wants from his side. That style that can only be nurtured on the concrete pitches of Liverpool. He showed it against City, with that run early in the second half, caring little for who he was powering past. Indeed, after his 90 minutes against City, the question should no longer be whether Barkley is named in Hodgson's squad on May 12 – instead, it is who he will replace, and how he will be utilised. City's team contained players who will represent Belgium, Argentina, Ivory Coast and Brazil among others this summer. Against them, he made 78 passes, released 11 accurate long balls, had a passing accuracy of 91% and completed a remarkable nine dribbles. And then, there was the goal. One special goal. Barkley is a boy with the world at his feet. Hodgson would be foolish not to let him give it a kicking this summer.
Everton FC: Ross Barkley will give England something special at World Cup
May 5 2014
By North Wales Daily Post
Roberto Martinez praises the 20-year-old after his stunning strike against Manchester City enhanced his chances of going to Brazil
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is no longer surprised by anything midfielder Ross Barkley produces and believes the youngster will give England something unique at this summer’s World Cup. The 20-year-old scored a stunning opener in the 3-2 defeat at home to Manchester City which ended the Toffees’ chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
That breathtaking strike enhanced his chances of making the squad for Brazil but Martinez appeared to be the only one inside Goodison who did not marvel at the first-time effort from 25 yards. “The concerning aspect is that I didn’t even get surprised by it as you get used to that type of quality,” said the Spaniard. “I thought the goal was a magnificent piece of skill from Ross.
“He is a phenomenal talent and the best England talent I have seen and the character that goes along with that quality is special. “He finished (the season at Goodison) with another incredibly special strike and we need to give him good care because he is special. “I respect (England boss) Roy Hodgson’s vision and his ideas for the World Cup and whatever he decides will be the right thing. “If Ross is called up he will be ready, he offers something unique and there is no-one in the England camp like Ross. “At the same time he is a young man and we need to look after him. The character of Ross is ready to embrace anything that comes his way but if he is not at the World Cup we will use the summer to regenerate him and refresh him for the next campaign.” Everton are all but guaranteed fifth as Tottenham are three points behind heading into the final game with a goal difference which is 19 worse than their rivals. Missing out on the top four is a blow, as for much of the season Everton put up a sustained challenge which only faltered in the final few games.
Despite that Martinez, who when he took over from David Moyes in the summer was not predicted to do as well as he has, thinks the campaign can be judged a success.
“It is disappointing because Champions League (qualification) was the dream we had at the beginning of the season,” he added. “If we get fifth that will be a phenomenal step forward and we have to make sure we can embrace those demands and take our name where it belongs in European competition.” Barkley’s opener was celebrated wildly by Goodison Park, which dispelled the pre-match suggestion that Evertonians would be happy for their side in order to significantly damage the title hopes of local rivals Liverpool. City hit back with goals from Sergio Aguero and two from Edin Dzeko before Romelu Lukaku’s header set up a tense finale for the visitors.
“In the last 20 minutes we gave it a proper go, showed great character, but we showed an incredible bravery from the first second to the last,” said Martinez. “I thought we didn’t deserve to lose the game and everyone who watched it understood if anyone was questioning our integrity as a club they had no reason to do it. “The effort of the players was clear to see and the way we celebrated Ross Barkley’s goal was as big a roar as there has been at Goodison this season.
“I think it is clear we tried absolutely everything to beat Manchester City.”
Roberto Martinez unveils Everton's Wall of Fame in tribute to Blues great
May 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Dixie Dean statue has been restored to its original site on Walton Lane - now centrepiece for Wall of Fame
Everton FC newest crowd favourite, Roberto Martinez, unveiled Everton’s Wall of Fame in tribute to their greatest idol today. But the Blues boss joked that he wouldn’t want Dixie Dean in his present Goodison line-up “because it would be too easy!” The much-loved Dixie Dean statue has been restored to its original site on Walton Lane – but is now the centrepiece of a Wall of Fame made up of personalised engraved stones either side of a new metal Goodison gateway.
The ‘Goodison Granites’ – as the stones are known – sold out within an hour of going on sale. And a large crowd gathered outside Goodison today to watch the unveiling. “As you can imagine we have a lot of nationalities and a lot of foreign players coming to represent our fantastic football club and to have a reference like Dixie Dean for them is a phenomenal sign of what we’re about,” said Martinez. “Would I like a Dixie Dean in my side next season? It would be too easy! With the team we already have, and 60 goals on top, that would be far too easy! “But from the first day I arrived here I knew we were a very special football club and I wanted to make sure that everything we do on a daily basis adds to the heritage and history that we have and is for you, the fans.”
Three generations of Dean’s family were present to witness the unveiling, daughter Barbara Dean and husband Mike Lewis, grand-daughter Melanie Prentice and great-grandchildren Daniel and Scarlett Prentice. Blues Life President Sir Philip Carter was joined at the unveiling by Deputy Chief Executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and the man who lies second in the all-time Goodison scoring list to the immortal Dixie, Graeme Sharp. Speaking on the 86th anniversary of Dean’s never to be beaten 60 goal season, Sir Philip said: ““I have brought along some notes with me because when I looked at the figures for Dixie I just can’t believe them. “I know we’re celebrating 60 goals scored in one season – but in actual fact, including cup ties and internationals that season he scored 89 goals in total. Not bad! “When he first started at 20 he was earning £2.50 a week, with £1 for a win and 50p for a draw. Not bad again. “And when he was bought from Tranmere he cost us £3,000, he gave us 14 years scoring 433 goals, and when we sold him we managed to get £3,000 for him. Not bad going again.” The new area has been a project co-ordinated by the Everton Fans’ Forum with support from the club. The group of supporters, who meet monthly to discuss and input into key club decisions, were given the opportunity to drive the project through from concept to completion. Tony Bott, Chairman of Everton fans forum, said: “This is a project the fans forum have been working on for a good number of months. “The conception was to get Dixie back in his rightful
place, but also to make an entrance to the ground and an area that will be a new way into Goodison Park so that you the fans are now recognised on the footprint of this stadium.
“It’s the first opportunity Everton have had to recognise the fans. We have recognised players and managers – and we all love them – but the fans make Everton what it is."
Before the grand unveiling boss Martinez also visited St Luke’s Church where the Everton Heritage Society regularly host pre-match exhibitions dedicated to highlighting the club’s rich history. Martinez was shown around some of the exhibits, which include an international jersey worn by Alex ‘Sandy’ Young in the pre First World War era, by Society chairman Paul Wharton.
Martinez hits back at critics who accused Goodison faithful of lacking usual 'bear-pit' ferocity
May 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Sky TV commentator Martin Tyler referred to subdued atmosphere on several occasions
Roberto Martinez has defended the Everton FC crowd after accusations that Goodison lacked its usual “bear-pit” ferocity on Saturday night against Manchester City.
Sky TV commentator Martin Tyler came under fire from Blues fans over the weekend for frequent suggestions during his commentary that Everton fans were torn between wanting their team to win and thus helping Liverpool in their bid to land a first league title for 24 years. At one stage co-commentator Gary Neville admitted to being “bored” by the atmosphere. But Blues boss Martinez hit back: “You should ask Manuel Pellegrini and the Manchester City players if that was an easy atmosphere. “In the second half especially the crowd were incredible. We felt galvanised by our crowd and I thought that our performance didn’t deserve a defeat. “If people want to make headlines that’s down to them, but I am very proud that as a football club we had to face a difficult game and a difficult position and no-one can question our professionalism or integrity or desire to win a football game in which I felt we deserved a lot more than we got.”
Everton starlet Ryan Ledson will not become second youngest player in club's history
May 5 2014 Liverpool Echo
By Micheal McKenna
England call-up means 16-year-old will not be available for Blues final match of season
Everton FC starlet Ryan Ledson will not become the second youngest player in Everton’s history – after England called up the talented central midfielder for next month’s European Championships in Malta. The 16-year-old – born on August 19, 1997 – was on the bench for the Blues recent matches at Southampton and on Saturday against Manchester City. If he had come on he would have been second only to Jose Baxter as the youngest first team player in the club’s history.
But the England call-up means he will not be available for the Blues final match of the season at Hull City this weekend. “He has done really well and has deserved the opportunity
to be in the first team squad,” said boss Roberto Martinez. “It was a very close call to him coming on to make his first team debut and it’s a shame now that he needs to join England under-17s. It’s an official tournament, England has priority and Ryan is the captain at that level.
“But he has benefitted from the experience he has had with the first team and we have all been very impressed with Ryan’s development this season and his appearances for the under-21s.
“He is a young man with a very bright future and we want to see that development continue and give him the opportunity he deserves. “He’s a player destined to be part of the School of Science.”
Everton lining up move for Marc Albrighton
May 5 2014 Birmingham Mail
By Mat Kendrick
The 24-year-old wideman is admired by Roberto Martinez and the Toffees boss is ready to offer him a fresh start at Goodison Park
Marc Albrighton has emerged as a target for Everton as the Aston Villa winger’s contract ticks down.
Albrighton’s current deal expires at the end of the season and he has yet to agree new terms with his boyhood club. The 24-year-old wideman is admired by Roberto Martinez and the Toffees boss is ready to offer him a fresh start at Goodison Park. Villa boss Paul Lambert confirmed last week that chief executive Paul Faulkner had spoken to Albrighton’s representative about the possibility of a new contract. But the Birmingham Mail understands the Bodymoor Heath academy graduate is keen to wait until the uncertainty surrounding the club’s future is resolved before committing himself to a deal. Albrighton has arguably been the claret and blues’ player of the season during the final third of the campaign after returning from a mid season loan spell at Martinez’s former club Wigan determined to prove he still has a part to play in the Premier League. There are also believed to be a string of Championship clubs monitoring Albrighton’s situation.
Ian Snodin: Barkley must be on the plane to Brazil
May 6 2014 Liverpool Echo
Ross must be one of Roy's boys for World Cup says Snods
If Roy Hodgson was in any doubt before his visit to Goodison Park, he must have been convinced afterwards – that Ross Barkley needs to be in his World Cup squad this summer.
Barkley’s form has been inconsistent since his injury which sidelined him early in the year, but his performance on Saturday was outstanding. And don’t forget that he produced that performance against world-class midfielders like Yaya Toure and Fernandinho. Apart from scoring a truly outstanding goal, he took the game by the scruff of the neck, he wanted the ball, he produced a number of storming runs and he showed he has the quality to be on board that flight to Rio.
His form has been up and down in recent weeks – but I just think he has something in his locker that not many other players possess. He might not start matches in Brazil, but the kind of quality that beat Joe Hart may be needed at some stage and he has the ability to produce it.
He can do something out of the ordinary – as we have seen several times for Everton this season – and we simply haven’t got that many English players capable of that to be able to overlook him.
Ross will benefit from the experience of training and travelling with an international squad – and will develop as the tournament progresses. Something similar happened with Paul Gascoigne in 1990, when Bobby Robson couldn’t make up his mind whether to take him or not, then eventually decided to gamble. The gamble certainly paid off and Gazza was one of the stars of the tournament.
It was suggested at the weekend that Ross’s team-mate, John Stones, should also join him on the plane to Brazil – but I think that may be just too much of a risk. Don’t get me wrong, I rate John Stones enormously as a player and I am convinced that he will be an England centre-half one day, but he’s only been playing Premier League football since January and it would be a big ask for him to step up into an international environment. On current form, he’s performing better than his young central defensive rivals like Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. But they have much more experience – certainly at international level – and it would probably be as big a shock to John as it would be to us if he was suddenly called up for Brazil. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Ross Barkley is ready to be exposed to that kind of pressure – and expectation. He’s already played for his country, he’s developing as a footballer all the time – and he has a rare talent. Roy Hodgson would overlook him at his peril when he names his 23-man squad to travel to Brazil later this summer.
Baffled by crowd complaints
Quite a few Evertonians have had a moan to me about the commentary of Saturday’s match on Sky TV.
Apparently the commentary team regularly referred to a “strange atmosphere” inside the ground, they suggested that some Blues fans were unsure about who they wanted to win – and at one stage Gary Neville even said that he was “bored!” I honestly have no idea what they were talking about.
I was commentating alongside Darren Griffiths for Everton TV and was wearing earphones so some of the sound is muffled, but to me there wasn’t any difference in the atmosphere to any other game.
In the build-up to the match, some Blues fans did tell me they weren’t bothered what happened in the match – but when you get to Goodison, when you hear the Z-Cars theme and then the teams come out, you definitely want your team to win. Everton fans love Everton Football Club more than they hate Liverpool, and when you see a goal as good as that from Ross Barkley, there aren’t many fans who weren’t going to celebrate. The tempo was good, we passed it around well in the first half then after the interval had a real good go. I really don’t know what Sky TV’s problem was.
'Injured' Dzeko was a joke
I couldn't believe what I was seeing on Saturday with Edin Dzeko’s ridiculous play-acting.
I thought referee Lee Probert handled the situation really well.
He refused to let Dzeko receive treatment because clearly he wasn’t hurt, he booked him when he finally got up after four minutes of rolling around in mock agony – then he added the time on at the end. I’d have been embarrassed to have a team-mate acting like that. Dzeko was a joke – a disgrace in fact – and he needs to have a long, hard look at himself.
Replacing Rom will cost us
Romelu Lukaku has helped our fight for fifth massively this season.
But it’s a completely different argument about whether we can afford to spend £25m on securing his services permanently this summer. We were desperate for a striker last summer and Romelu came in at the last minute and scored plenty of goals early doors. He has lacked a bit of consistency since his injury but people often fail to take his age into account. While people accept that youngsters like Ross Barkley and John Stones will suffer from inconsistency and will need to be rested now and then – they fail to appreciate that Lukaku is the same age and has been used pretty much every time he’s been available. We’ve needed presence and power – and he has provided it – but can we get something similar for less than £25m? Wilfried Bony has impressed me a lot this season.
He has scored 24 goals this season for Swansea – and you can’t help thinking that he would have scored even more playing in a better quality side like Everton. There’s plenty for Roberto Martinez to think about this summer – not least where he goes with his striking options.
City gossip: Toffees eye Milner, Real in for Pogba, Hazard on Blues radar
May 6 2014
By Paul Handler
Manchester Evening News
Check out the latest Manchester City rumours doing the rounds including Everton eyeing a move for James Milner and the Blues in for Eden Hazard.
Everton are preparing a summer swoop for City midfielder James Milner, report the Daily Mirror .
And Real are lining up a 45m euros move for reported City target Paul Pogba, say tuttomercatoweb.com
And City are eyeing a move for unsettled Chelsea midfield star Eden Hazard, according to footballdirectnews.com
Arsenal and Everton joined by Dortmund in race for Swansea ace Wilfried Bony
SWANSEA striker Wilfried Bony is at the centre of a three-way fight for his services.
By: James Dickenson
May 6 2014 Daily Express
Bony recently revealed his desire to play for a 'bigger club' than the Swans, sparking speculation about his future. According to reports, Arsenal and Everton are keen on the 25-year-old, who has scored 24 goals in his debut season in English football. But Express Sport understands Borussia Dortmund are also set to join the race for Bony. Dortmund will lose star striker Robert Lewandowski at the end of the season and boss Jurgen Klopp knows his goals must be replaced. Klopp is Considering making a bid for Swans hitman Bony, who is thought to be keen on playing in the Bundesliga.
Bryan Oviedo vows to put Everton first after horror injury
BRYAN OVIEDO will not jeopardise his Everton career by rushing back from a broken leg in order to take part in Costa Rica's World Cup campaign.
May 6 2014 Daily Express
By Paul Joyce
Costa Rica face England in the final match in Group D and Oviedo will join up with his national team later this month as he looks to prove his fitness. Oviedo suffered a horrific double break in an FA Cup win over Stevenage in January and has astounded medical staff by the speed of his recovery. But the left-sided star admits he will not go to Brazil unless he is fully recovered because he does not want to return to Everton and suffer complications that would sideline him again. "Of course I want be in the World Cup," he said. "It has one of the best experiences a footballer can have but I need to be honest for my career for the next year. "I want to be ready. I don't want to be 80 per cent or 90 per cent because it's dangerous for me and the team. "I am working for the World Cup but if it's not possible, then I am working to recover for next season because it will be very important for me.
"I was playing more before I broke my leg and I want to play more in the team and help the team next season. I don't want to go to the World Cup and then come back to Everton and when I start to play have a lot of injuries." Oviedo, who scored the winner in December as Everton beat Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 21 years, is doing bike work and running on soft surfaces. "I start training with Coast Rica on the 19th of this month and then we will see," he said. "We train for two weeks and by the second week I hope to be training normally with the other players. "In the month before the World Cup we have some games. I'm hoping to be able to play two or three. That would be good for me, but I don't know if I will be ready in time. I don't know how my leg will respond."
Martinez prepared to play waiting game in order to get Lukaku on permanent deal
May 6 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Blues boss wants to bolster his playing staff early this summer
Roberto Martinez is prepared to play a game of patience this summer in order to add strike star Romelu Lukaku permanently to his Everton FC squad. The Blues boss wants to bolster his playing staff early this summer. But he is prepared to make an exception for the 20-year-old Belgian international and wait until after the World Cup to see whether Lukaku can become a permanent addition next season. The young striker has enjoyed an excellent campaign on-loan from Chelsea at Goodison, scoring 15 goals – 14 in the Premier League. But having spent £18m on acquiring him from Anderlecht as a teenager in 2011, Chelsea would want to recoup at least £20m should they decide to let him leave Stamford Bridge this summer. “I don’t think that’s my worry,” shrugged Martinez. “The worry would be that if the deal was a cheap one, it would be because he has had a torrid time and hasn’t fulfilled his potential.” And the Blues boss revealed he was prepared to wait on Lukaku’s future being decided. “The reason Romelu came to Everton was for him to take a big role, take a lot of responsibility, to start playing 90 minutes and be a real brain in that forward line, and he has done that so we couldn’t be happier,” he added. “The parent club, Chelsea, are delighted with his progress and the player has developed an incredible relationship with our fans. His memories will never evaporate, but we will see what’s next. “We’ll see what’s the best thing for everyone. But everything will be in stages: how Chelsea are doing in their own squad and how that frees some players. It’s going to take a bit of time and I don’t think Romelu’s situation is going to be resolved before the World Cup, in truth. “I think it will be after the World Cup.” An impressive tournament for the striker could see his asking price soar, but Martinez smiled: “We are too close to Romelu to hope he has a poor tournament! We hope he has a really, really good World Cup . . . and then decides to come to us.” Lukaku is one of three loan stars who have sparkled at Everton last season – alongside Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry – a free agent this summer - and Barcelona forward Gerard Deulofeu. Martinez explained that he would continue to bolster his squad with players on loan. “Remember that the three loans we have had have been very successful,” he added. “That’s the only thing you look at when you enter into a loan relationship. “You can see many loans around up and down the league which have not been successful. “The only thing you want to do is sit down at the end of the season with the parent club and assess the situation – make sure they are happy with the progress of the player, happy with the memories he has and the way he has enjoyed his football, and as a club make sure we have a player who has enjoyed his stay.“That’s what we’re going to do. “The loan market for us is vital. I think it’s important that we bring in fresh blood for a short period of time to help the development of the squad because we have such big assets in the team. To have short term players becomes positive and beneficial.“We are going to look into every position, depending on the players, and depending on parent clubs, but what is important is to look back and see that each of the three loan players has been a success.“We need to make sure that every loan player who comes to Everton is, at the end of the period, a success.”
Ross Barkley an England World Cup squad MUST says Everton team-mate who could face him in Brazil
May 6 2014 Daily Mirror
By Mirror Football
Toffees' Costa Rican Bryan Oviedo is fighting to recover from broken leg in time for the finals - and hopes to take on his Goodison colleague in group phase
Everton's Bryan Oviedo insists England should take Ross Barkley to the World Cup - even if it means playing against him. Oviedo is battling to be fit to get into the Costa Rica squad after breaking a leg in an FA Cup tie in January. But he is adamant Barkley deserves his place in England’s squad after an outstanding season in Everton’s midfield. “I hope he gets in,” said Oviedo, who could face England in their Group D finale on June 24. “He is working for that and we saw in the last game against Manchester City, he had a fantastic game. “It would be good for him to go to the World Cup for the experience and because he is a very good player. “To have a player like him is very good for England because sometimes you need a player who can come on and win games. I think Ross is a player like that. Maybe he can sit on the bench and then come on and score a goal to win the game. He can make a difference.” Oviedo will link up with the Costa Rica squad for a two-week
Training camp, in which he needs to prove his fitness. But the 24-year-old full-back or wideman won’t gamble a World Cup place against potentially damaging his Everton career.
“I have to be honest with myself,” Oviedo added. “Of course I want be in the World Cup. It’s one of the best experiences a footballer can have but I need to be honest for my career.
“I need to speak to the manager at Everton and the coach of the national team because it’s my career. “I want to be ready for the World Cup but I don’t want to go to and then come back to Everton and when I start to play have a lot of injuries. It’s not worth it for me.”
Blues boss Martinez embracing School of Science ethos
May 7 2014 Liverpool Echo
By David Prentice
Goodison faithful delighted with Catalan boss' first season in charge
Roberto Martinez admits that hearing Everton fans sing about the return of the School of Science at Goodison Park this season brings a big smile to his face.
And the Catalan purist insists that “how Everton win” football matches will always be more important to him than the accumulation of points. Everton fans have quickly embraced Martinez’s possession-based, passing from the back style of play at Goodison. And some see links with the club’s glorious past. Banners have celebrated the re-opening of the School of Science and a popular terrace chant has proclaimed the return of the Blues’ once cherished tag. “We know how to control the ball, we know how to break teams down, we know how to use dynamic play with our counter-attacks, and the words School of Science bring a big smile to everyone’s face,” Martinez told the ECHO this week. “It’s a sense of pride, and a sense of naturality if you like. We want to win, don’t get me wrong, but how we win is more important.” Martinez’s words echo the sentiments of legendary Everton boss Harry Catterick, who produced two title-winning teams in the 1960s and 70s – including the 1969/70 champions of the stylish Ball-Harvey-Kendall midfield axis.
Catterick once said: “Let’s have this skilful football. We are trying to produce it. If in producing this highly skilled stuff we win a championship, we will be delighted, but we are not going to run away from skilful football for heavy grounds or anything else.” His teams, in turn, were a flashback to the great Everton sides of the 20s and 30s led by Dixie Dean. Famous English goalscorer Steve Bloomer was the man credited with first referring to Everton as a “scientific” football team.
“We owe a great deal to Everton,” he said. “No matter where they play, and no matter whether they are well or badly placed in the table in the league table, they always manage to serve football of the highest scientific order. “Everton always worship at the shrine of craft and science and never do they forget the standard of play they set out to achieve.”Martinez admits he has enjoyed
Studying Everton’s history and reputation for “beautiful football” – and believes his own football philosophies have found a perfect fit at Goodison Park. “That was a feeling which developed in a quiet place,” he said “watching Everton and being fascinated by Will Cuff stories, watching Howard Kendall’s teams of the 80s. I thought ‘that is me’ as a footballer. “I’m very much of those beliefs.
“To be able to connect with the fans and to connect with the club in that manner is very important because that reflects on the team. “And I think that as a team we have shown this season that we are developing into a team that can play in different ways. “There’s a real sense of something special brewing at the football club and in the dressing room and we need to make sure that next season we get the rewards from this first campaign.”
EFC transfer gossip: Dortmund enter Bony race; Martinez keeps tabs on Milner and Albrighton
May 7 2014
By Liverpool Echo
A round-up of the latest Blues transfer rumours
Everton face serious competition for Swansea City hotshot Wilfried Bony, according to The Express.
The 25-year-old, who has scored 24 goals in his debut season with the Swans, is thought to be wanted by Arsenal and the Blues. Now Borussia Dortmund have entered the hunt for Bony as boss Jurgen Klopp extends his search for a replacement for Robert Lewandowski, who leaves this summer. The Mirror reports that Roberto Martinez is planning a swoop for James Milner.
The 28-year-old has made only 11 Premier League starts for Manchester City this season and is about to enter the final year of his contract. He has seen close pal Gareth Barry loaned to Everton this season and Martinez is hoping to lure both to Goodison on permanent deals this summer.
Aston Villa winger Marc Albrighton could get a fresh start at Goodison Park, according to the Birmingham Mail. The 24-year-old winger’s deal expires at the end of the season and he has yet to agree terms with his boyhood club. Albrighton is admired by Martinez and has been in fine form for Villa since returning from a loan spell with Wigan.
Everton FC: Lukaku's future to be resolved after World Cup says Martinez
May 7 2014 Liverpool Echo
By North Wales Daily Post
Blues boss says he will bide his time in pursuit of Belgian striker
Roberto Martinez is prepared to play a game of patience this summer in order to add strike star Romelu Lukaku permanently to his Everton squad. The Blues boss wants to bolster his playing staff early this summer. But he is prepared to make an exception for the 20-year-old Belgian international and wait until after the World Cup to see whether Lukaku can become a permanent addition next season. The young striker has enjoyed an excellent campaign on loan from Chelsea at Goodison, scoring 15 goals – 14 in the Premier League. But having spent £18m on acquiring him from Anderlecht as a teenager in 2011, Chelsea would want to recoup at least £20m should they decide to let him leave Stamford Bridge this summer. “I don’t think that’s my worry,” shrugged Martinez. “The worry would be that if the deal was a cheap one it would be because he has had a torrid time and hasn’t fulfilled his potential.” And the Blues boss revealed he was prepared to wait on Lukaku’s future being decided. “The reason Romelu came to Everton was for him to take a big role, take a lot of responsibility, to start playing 90 minutes and be a real brain in that forward line and he has done that so we couldn’t be happier,” he added. “The parent club, Chelsea, are delighted with his progress and the player has developed an incredible relationship with our fans. “His memories will never evaporate, but we will see what’s next. “We’ll see what’s the best thing for everyone. But everything will be in stages: how Chelsea are doing in their own squad and how that frees some players. It’s going to take a bit of time and I don’t think Romelu’s situation is going to be resolved before the World Cup, in truth. “I think it will be after the World Cup.” An impressive tournament for the striker could see his asking price soar, but Martinez smiled: “We are too close to Romelu to hope he has a poor tournament! We hope he has a really, really good World Cup... and then decides to come to us.” Lukaku is one of three loan stars who have sparkled at Everton last season, alongside Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry – a free agent this summer – and Barcelona forward Gerard Deulofeu. Martinez explained that he would continue to bolster his squad with players on loan. “Remember that the three loans we have had have been very successful,” he added. “That’s the only thing you look at when you enter into a loan relationship. “You can see many loans around up and down the league which have not been successful.“The only thing you want to do is sit down at the end of the season with the parent club and assess the situation – make sure they are happy with the progress of the player, happy with the memories he has and the way he has enjoyed his football, and as a club make sure we have a player who has enjoyed his stay. “That’s what we’re going to do. “The loan market for us is vital. I think it’s important that we bring in fresh blood for a short period of time to help the development of the squad because we have such big assets in the team. To have short- term players becomes positive and beneficial. “We are going to look into every position, depending on the players, and depending on parent clubs, but what is important is to look back and see that each of the three loan players has been a success. “We need to make sure that every loan player who comes to Everton is, at the end of the period, a success.”
Romelu Lukaku's future hinges on Chelsea's interest in Ross Barkley and John Stones
May 7 2014 London Evening Standard
Everton plan to wait until after the World Cup to try and sign Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea permanently.
The Blues are looking to sell the striker, who has scored 15 goals on loan at Goodison Park this season. It would be difficult for Everton to afford the £20million asking price but Chelsea have a long standing interest in their England midfielder Ross Barkley and have also been monitoring defender John Stones and that could pave the way for the transfer to take place.
Although Roberto Martinez wants to keep his prize assets, Chelsea would look to capitalise on his desire to buy Lukaku by suggesting a deal which involves one of the young talents going the other way. Significantly, Martinez is not concerned about Lukaku’s fee despite Everton’s limited resources and said: “I don’t think that’s my worry. The worry would be that if the deal was a cheap one, it would be because he has had a torrid time and hasn’t fulfilled his potential. The reason Romelu came to Everton was for him to take a big role, take a lot of responsibility, to start playing 90 minutes and be a real brain in that forward line, and he has done that so we couldn’t be happier.
“Chelsea are delighted with his progress and the player has developed an incredible relationship with our fans. His memories will never evaporate, but we will see what’s next. “We’ll see what’s the best thing for everyone. But everything will be in stages: how Chelsea are doing in their own squad and how that frees some players. It’s going to take a bit of time and I don’t think Romelu’s situation is going to be resolved before the World Cup, in truth. I think it will be after the World Cup.”
A strong showing for Lukaku in Brazil with Belgium this summer will undoubtedly increase the size of his fee as well as attract more interest from clubs around Europe. But Martinez added: “We are too close to Romelu to hope he has a poor tournament! We hope he has a really, really good World Cup and then decides to come to us.”
Pienaar set for return at Hull
May 7 2014 Hull Evening Express
Steven Pienaar has been sidelined with a knee cartilage problem for the last two months
Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar is set to return for their final match of the season at Hull on Sunday.
A knee problem means the South African has not played since the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Arsenal at the start of March.
"Steven has been working with the team and that is very positive," manager Roberto Martinez told evertontv. "We will assess him before Sunday to see whether he can play a part or not. "Darron Gibson (out for the entire season after cruciate ligament surgery) has been working with the team as well. "That is really good timing because he has been able to finish the season strong from his point of view. "I don't know if Darron will make it in time to be involved with the squad but it is a positive sign nonetheless. "From that point of view it is the same squad that we had for Manchester City, apart from Ryan Ledson, who is going to join the England Under-17s setup at the European Championships where we wish him well."