Everton FC complete £6m signing of Holland international Johnny Heitinga
Sept 1 2009 By Ian Doyle
EVERTON have completed the £6million signing of Holland international right-back Johnny Heitinga. The 25-year-old right-back has signed a five-year contract after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical at Finch Farm this afternoon.
Everton had already agreed a fee with Atletico Madrid, which could rise to £7m depending on the player’s progress at Goodison. Heitinga, who has close to 50 caps for his country, can also play at centre-back and such versatility and experience made him an attractive proposition for David Moyes. He becomes the fourth new arrival at Everton over the summer, following the on-loan signing of striker Jo from Manchester City, the £9m capture of Lokomotiv Moscow left winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and last week’s £5.3m move for Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin. Everton chief executive Robert Elstone said: "We are pleased the deal has been completed to get John into Everton. "He is a very experienced player having played at both Ajax and Atletico Madrid and I know David Moyes is looking forward to getting him started."
A graduate of Ajax’s academy, Heitinga made his senior debut at 17 and went on to establish himself as a regular for the Amsterdam side, spending five years playing alongside Steven Pienaar before the South African left for Borussia Dortmund.
Everton still hopeful of clinching deal for Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga
Sept 1 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES remained ‘hopeful’ that Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga would become his third big signing of the summer today. Overnight reports suggested the deal had been scuppered by the player’s wage demands. But Blues’ boss Moyes said this morning he still remained “hopeful.” Reports of the Dutch star earning in excess of £40,000 per week net at Atletico Madrid have been described as well wide of the mark. The Blues have also dismissed suggestions they made a late bid to sign Portsmouth’s Nico Kranjcar, only to be beaten by Spurs. “Why would we need another left sided player after we’ve signed Bilyaletdinov,” said a club official.
The Russian midfielder and Sylvain Distin have both been added to the Blues squad in the past seven days but boss David Moyes will be bitterly disappointed if they are the only two additions. A number of discussions took place yesterday between Everton officials and Heitinga’s representatives and will continue until 5pm this afternoon, if necessary. But Moyes needs to recruit more than just a defender – albeit a versatile one – and Everton are pursuing several leads to bolster their midfield. Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson is a possibility, but suggestions that the Blues are pursuing a move for Javi Martinez of Atletico Bilbao are wide of the mark.
The chances of Ever Banega arriving are looking increasingly remote, as no further headway has been made over the weekend. Everton obtained a work permit for the Argentine international 10 days ago but the fact he was restored to Valencia’s starting line-up resulted in the goal posts being shifted. Meanwhile, Leighton Baines is hoping the last-gasp win over his old club Wigan kick starts Everton’s campaign and gives them the impetus to claw back the lead that their rivals have built over them in the table. “We have to keep pace,” said the penalty hero. “You look at what other teams have done in the summer, clubs we finished above last season. Aston Villa, Manchester City and Spurs have all spent big. “They have brought in quality players and they had all started the season well. We had struggled so the win has got us up and running.”
Everton in transfer deadline day race to sign new stars
Sept 1 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today racing against the clock as they battled to bring in some much-needed new faces before the transfer window slams shut. The Blues have signed Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Sylvain Distin in the past seven days but boss David Moyes will be bitterly disappointed if they are the only two additions. Atletico Madrid defender Johnny Heitinga is number one target and the club are still trying to put together a suitable financial package to bring him to Merseyside. A number of discussions took place yesterday between Everton officials and Heitinga’s representatives will continue until 5pm this afternoon, if necessary. But Moyes needs to recruit more than just a defender – albeit a versatile one – and Everton are pursuing several leads to bolster their midfield. Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson could, perhaps, be an alternative if negotiating a deal for Bentley is too problematic, but suggestions that they are pursuing a move for Javi Martinez of Atletico Bilbao are wide of the mark. The chances of Ever Banega arriving are looking increasingly remote, as no further headway has been made over the weekend. Everton obtained a work permit for the Argentine international 10 days ago but the fact he was restored to Valencia’s starting line-up resulted in the goal posts being shifted. Meanwhile, Leighton Baines is hoping the last-gasp win over his old club Wigan kick starts Everton’s campaign and gives them the impetus to claw back the lead that their rivals have built over them in the table. After losing their opening two league games, some have said that Baines and company will struggle to peg back Tottenham and Manchester City but the man whose spot-kick clinched Everton’s first three points is ready for the fight. “We have to keep pace,” said the penalty hero. “You look at what other teams have done in the summer, clubs we finished above last season. Aston Villa, Manchester City and Spurs have all spent big. “They have brought in quality players and they had all started the season well. We had struggled a bit, so the win over Wigan has got us up and running.”
Leon Osman must find form - Everton boss David Moyes
Sep 1 2009 Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged Leon Osman to recapture the form that has made him such an integral part of Everton’s squad. Since marking his debut with a goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers in May 2004, Osman continually contributed to the club’s development and has made 207 appearances. However, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s £9m arrival from Lokomotiv Moscow has left some supporters wondering what the future might hold for Osman in terms of his starting place.
Though Bilyaletdinov is naturally left-footed, he can operate just as effectively on the opposite flank which is why questions have started to be asked about Osman.
Osman, though, is a tough character – as proven by the way he bounced back from shattering his knee cap in 2001 – and has never been put off by a challenge.
That is why his manager knows he can expect a positive response from the midfielder – his performance against SK Sigma Olomouc last Thursday was much improved – but he has urged him to not waste any time doing so. “Bilyaletdinov can play on the right as well,” said Moyes. “We have just needed extra in midfield. We just haven’t had enough balance or enough players in those areas. “Ossie has always been someone that we can rely on. He always starts the season off a bit rusty but when he gets his form back, he can be a really important player for us.” As he has shown on numerous occasions; Osman is capable of popping up with important goals at crucial times and Moyes believes he will continue to do that. “I’ve said before that Ossie is part of the bricks here,” said Moyes. “But he knows he must work really hard and play well if we’re going to get the players I want in. “But so will the rest of the squad. He is now at an important time in his career. We value him really highly and I want him to get back into good form. He is a key member for us.” Bilyaletdinov, meanwhile, is looking forward to properly launching his Everton career once he returns from international duty in 10 days time. The Russian – who will wear the number seven shirt – got a brief taste of what he can expect to encounter as a late substitute in the 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic on Sunday and is eagerly awaiting the game at Fulham on September 13. “The Premier League is the best in the world,” said a man who speaks almost impeccable English. “Every team is so strong and it was good to see our fans on Sunday. It doesn’t matter what side I play on, I just want to play here. First I must play for Russia against Liechtenstein in Moscow, then against Wales in Cardiff.
“My first impressions of the club are very good, we have an excellent training ground and the team is very good also. We have many good players.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Everton kept cool against Wigan when it mattered
Sep 1 2009 by Nigel Martyn, Liverpool Echo
INTERNATIONAL breaks are the bane of a club manager’s life and that will certainly ring true for David Moyes in the next 10 days. Just when Everton looked set to build up a head of steam, along comes an unwanted interruption which denies us the opportunity to build on a victory over Wigan Athletic that spoke volumes for this squad’s character. When Paul Scharner scored midway through the second half, it could have signalled the beginning of the end for a squad that had lost its opening two league games but you never once got that impression that would be the case from the Blues. True, it helped that Louis Saha got an equaliser not long after Scharner had got the wrong side of Leon Osman but even when the minutes were ticking by, Everton kept trying to pass the ball from side to side. In such circumstances, it is easy for teams to lose their cool and start pumping a succession of long balls into the opposition’s area but David will have been delighted that his players kept wanting to do the right thing. Eventually we got our rewards and while the penalty Leighton Baines drilled into the roof of the net came late in the day, it’s hard to argue that we didn’t deserve to take the three points – particularly after Marouane Fellaini and Jo came off the bench. Those two men made significant contributions but don’t overlook Tim Howard’s input; people will say that this is a former number one sticking by a fellow member of the goalkeepers’ union, but that is not the case. His save when Wigan had a six against two break just before the end of normal tie was just as important as Leighton’s penalty – if Scott Sinclair had scored, there really would have been no way back. Happily, though, the opposite was true and the league table now makes much more pleasant viewing for us Evertonians but, more than that, it will give everyone at Finch Farm a much-needed lift. Beating Wigan ensured last week ended on a high, following two high-profile signings and reaching the group stages of the Europa League, and that’s why it is a such a shame there is no game for us this weekend to get our teeth into. Belatedly, the season is up and running and by the time everyone reconvenes after these international fixtures, a fully focused squad must make sure we capitalise on that.
NOTHING TO FEAR ABOUT EURO DRAW
IT’S fair to say that Everton have rarely enjoyed the luck of the draw in Europe but I don’t think there can be too many complaints about our Europa League group.
While Benfica, AEK Athens and Bate Borisov all have recent Champions League experience, Everton’s players should not feel overawed about the size of the task they face before Christmas. As far as I am concerned the Blues have an outstanding opportunity to progress through to the knockouts stages and they will make it happen if they continue to be such a strong unit at Goodison Park. There will definitely be some nights to savour and the games against Benfica will be special occasions but are they the force they used to be? It could have definitely been worse. And, who knows, maybe the teams we are due to play are worrying right now about coming to Goodison - if we are in the mood and have everyone fit and available, we can give the very best something to think about.
Distin is certainly someone to shout about
JOLEON LESCOTT or Sylvain Distin and £20m? If we are using Sunday’s game with Wigan as a gauge, I know what my answer would be. While you can’t go overboard after just one game, you could not have been anything other than impressed with the way Distin slipped into his role as Lescott’s successor and once again, David Moyes looks to have done a shrewd piece of business. What impressed me most was the way Distin was looking to shout out instructions whenever possible and it could be that he takes over the mantle of Alan Stubbs. I know from experience that Everton’s defence is not full of vocal characters – we have certainly missed someone to have a good shout since Stubbsy left – and the manager might just tell his new Frenchman that he could become that kind of leader. He is experienced, athletic and blessed with great pace and Everton’s back four looks all the better with him in it.
EVERTON CLINCH HEITINGA
1st September 2009
By Julia White for Dailystar
Everton have completed the £6million signing of defender Johnny Heitinga from Atletico Madrid. The Holland international arrived at the Toffees’ Finch Farm training ground last night and the formalities of the deal were completed 20 minutes before the summer transfer deadline closed. Heitinga, whose fee could eventually rise to £7million, has signed a five-year deal. He offers manager David Moyes options in the centre and right of defence.
Johnny Heitinga proud to sign for Everton FC on transfer deadline day
Sept 2 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON manager David Moyes believes he has signed two international class players for the price of one with his capture of Dutch international defender Johny Heitinga. The Blues made the versatile star their fourth and final capture of the transfer window yesterday sealing a £6m switch from Atletico Madrid.
A delighted Moyes believes Heitinga’s versatility will prove invaluable in the coming months. “He is here to give me cover at centre half and at right back,” said Moyes today. “Until Phil Jagielka returns we need another player who can fill in at centre back, and I also felt we needed some more competition at right back.
“Johnny is comfortable in both those roles and he has also some knowledge of playing a central defensive midfield role. “This is an important season for Johnny with the World Cup coming up and I am sure he will want to be playing regularly so that he goes to South Africa next summer. “He had a difficult season last year at Atletico Madrid when he perhaps didn’t do as well as he would have liked. But prior to that he was outstanding for Ajax. “I felt the price for him offered excellent value compared to the prices we were being quoted for other players.” Moyes has urged Everton fans to be patient with all of his acquisitions - Heitinga, Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyatletdinov and Silvain Distan. He said: “On paper, all three players look very exciting signings. We know what Sylvain Distin can do but the other two players are new to the Premier League. “Their lack of experience of English football is my only concern. It’s certainly not their ability as footballers but in the past it has taken Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, who went on to become excellent footballers for us, a period of time to settle. “So we may have to be patient with the new boys.
"We are really pleased to have him with us. He is an experienced and versatile player who can hopefully fill a number of different positions in the team. I am sure he will be an exciting signing for us.” Heitinga has swopped a Champions League campaign with Atletico for a watching brief of Everton’s Europa League campaign.
Unfortunately, Heitinga will be unable to play in the Blues’ European games, having already featured for Atletico in the Champions League play-off round earlier this season. But his arrival will give Moyes options in several areas of the field.
The Blues hired a private jet once again to ensure a deal which was rumoured to have collapsed on Monday night, was smoothly completed. On transfer deadline day last year Everton hired a jet to fly Moyes and club secretary David Harrison to Belgium to capture record signing Marouane Fellaini. This time the plane brought Heitinga to Merseyside and it was the Dutchman’s impressions of the training ground and Goodison Park which clinched the deal. “I am proud to sign at the People’s Club,” he said. “It’s a nice club and a club with a big history. “I saw a lot of Everton games last season and they have a strong team. I spoke with the manager earlier and the feelings were good. The training ground is really good. It’s a typical English stadium and I love it.” Heitinga immediately flew back to Holland for international duty. Moyes also rubbished reports that Heitinga’s personal terms were a major issue..
“The figures which have been reported are well wide of the mark,” he added.
Moyes has been desperate to improve his squad depth, saying: “We let four players go at the end of last season and they had not been replaced. “The squad is important here, not just the first 11. That is the way we work here. “We have not had that experience on the bench, and we have probably not had it for a while.”
Everton chief executive Robert Elstone said: “We are pleased the deal has been completed to get John into Everton. He is a very experienced player having played at both Ajax and Atletico Madrid and I know David Moyes is looking forward to getting him started.” Heitinga arrives in the Premier League as one of Holland’s most experienced defenders, racking up nearly 50 caps and occasionally captaining his country. He can play at both his preferred central-defensive role and at right-back, having fulfilled both positions successfully for his country. During his time in Holland, Heitinga won the Eredivisie twice and the Dutch Cup three times.
He was voted Holland’s player of the year in 2008 and went on to join Atletico from Ajax that summer for a fee of 10m euros. Moyes had been in the market for several players, and hoped for four new faces over the weekend. Ultimately he had to settle for one, with Valencia eventually changing their minds and blocking a loan move for winger Ever Banega. In a busy transfer window Moyes has tied up the season-long loan move of Brazilian striker Jo, added Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov for £10m. Sylvain Distin from Portsmouth for £5m, with finally Heitinga making the switch from La Liga – almost matching the £22m brought in by the sale of Joleon Lescott to Manchester City. Four youngsters also arrived in this window, Cody Arnoux, Anton Peterlin, Luke Garbutt and Shkodran Mustafi
Why Everton FC new boy Johnny Heitinga has the swagger and the style of Ruud Krol
Sept 2 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON new boy Johnny Heitinga has the swagger and the style of Dutch legend Ruud Krol, says a man who knows both players’ games inside out.
The Blues’ £6m signing emerged from the legendary Ajax youth academy, after first working as a ball boy for the Amsterdam club. And Ajax legend Sjaak Swart, the former Dutch international who played in Ajax’s two European Cup winning campaigns of 1971 and 1972, last night compared him to one of the finest Dutch defenders of all-time. “He has always been bold, but in a good way,” explained Swart. “He reminded me of my old team-mate Ruud Krol. “At 17, he was so good that when he was on the ball, the opposition were afraid to try and take it off him. He had so much experience and strength, he could take on three men and play a 40-metre pass as if there was nobody in his way. “On top of that, his timing is excellent. He always picks the right time to come forward out of defence. And he could smash the ball home from 35 yards out. “That’s why he scored as many as 17 goals as a defender for Ajax’ top junior team. “If there was one weakness in his game it was that he would sometimes give away too many cheap free-kicks, and pick up too many yellow cards. But that’s something he has worked on. “Jaap Stam was very good for him at Ajax, he helped him hone some of the final elements of his game. You will always see him talking to the other defenders, organising the back line. And he still loves to get forward, and still scores a lot of goals.”
A hugely versatile footballer, John Gijsbert Alan Heitinga, started life as a right-back, claims he prefers central defence and can also push up into a defensive midfield role.
He made his league debut for Ajax in 2001, at the age of just 17 years 284 days, in the ‘classic’ against Feyenoord at the De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam.
An injury half way through the 2001/02 season sidelined him for the rest of the campaign, and he also missed much of the 2002/03 season.
However, after his comeback the club stormed to another title in 2004. By then he had won his first cap in the national team, starting as a right-back in a friendly against the USA in his own backyard, the Amsterdam Arena. John scored his first international goal only two months later in a friendly against Greece. At Euro 2004 he was in Holland’s starting line-up for the first two games, but was sent off with two yellow cards against the Czech Republic. He played in the quarterfinal against Sweden as the Dutch progressed to the semi-finals. At the 2006 World Cup, John played the first two games, before being rested for the third against Argentina. In the second round match against Portugal he started on the bench, and his appearance as a substitute came too late to prevent the team from defeat.
JOHNNY’S ALL THE WAGE FOR BLUES
2nd September 2009
By Kevin Francis
DUTCH defender Johnny Heitinga became Everton’s top earner last night in a beat-the-clock move to Merseyside. Everton signed him for a £6m fee, which could rise to £7m, just 20 minutes before the transfer window closed. It is believed his weekly salary will be in excess of the £55,000-a-week enjoyed by previous top earner Mikel Arteta. The 25-year-old’s move looked in jeopardy with Everton unwilling to match the £80,000 a week he was earning at Atletico Madrid. But the deal was done and delighted Everton boss David Moyes said: “We are really pleased to have him with us. “He is an experienced and versatile player who can hopefully fill a number of different positions in the team. I am sure he will be an exciting signing for us.”
The Dutch international can play at right back, in central defence or in a defensive midfield role and will wear the No.5 shirt of Joleon Lescott, who joined Manchester City last week. Heitinga, who has 47 caps, had one full season at Atletico following a £6m move from Ajax. He became Everton’s fourth signing of the summer after passing his medical and signing a five-year deal. A graduate of Ajax’s famous academy, he made his senior debut at 17 and established himself as a regular, alongside Everton’s Steven Pienaar. In Holland, Heitinga won the Eredivisie twice and the Dutch equivalent of the FA Cup three times. He was voted Holland’s player of the year in 2008. Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone said: “We are pleased the deal has been completed. “He is a very experienced player and I know David Moyes is looking forward to getting him started.” Everton missed out on two other targets yesterday as Dutch midfielder Rafael Van Der Vaart decided to remain with Real Madrid after initially showing interest in a move. Another midfielder, Argentine Ever Banega, was close to joining the club on loan after Everton were granted a work permit for the player, but he will remain with Valencia.
Cut Yakubu some slack – Everton boss David Moyes
Sept 3 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has warned Everton fans not to expect an instant goals return from prolific striker Yakubu. The Nigerian forward, missing for nine months with a ruptured achilles tendon, scored after just 30 seconds of his reserve team comeback last week. He was instantly promoted to senior duty as a substitute in the Europea League clash at Sigma Olomouc, but the Blues boss has urged Evertonians to be patient. “Yak’s been out for nine months and he will have to get a lot of training and a lot of football under his belt before we feel he’s ready to start Premier League matches again,” said Moyes. “He played 45 minutes for the reserves again this week but felt his hip and his back tighten up so we had to take him off. “We have to understand that he has been out for a long time.” The Nigerian has always hit the ground running since joining the Blues from Middlesbrough two years ago. He scored on his debut at Bolton, in a season when he went on to finish top scorer and become the first Everton player to score 20 goals in a season since Peter Beardsley. He also got last season off to a flying start with four goals in his opening five games, before suffering the serious injury at Tottenham in November. Moyes, however, had heartening news about the progress of Mikel Arteta, missing since February with cruciate knee ligament damage.
“Mikel’s doing well and there’s a chance that he can join in with the other boys in maybe a week or two. “But he, too, will need reserve games before we can call on him.” The Blues, meanwhile, have once again refuted reports they tried to sign new Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar. The Croatian claimed he turned down Everton in favour of a move to White Hart Lane, but a bemused chairman Bill Kenwright said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read what Kranjcar is alleged to have said,” he said. “We made no approach either to Portsmouth or to the player’s respresentatives; maybe he was talking about Everton Chile.” Manager David Moyes added: “Not at any point did anyone from the Club contact Portsmouth to express an interest in Niko Kranjcar. In Steven Pienaar and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov we already have players who provide excellent cover in his chosen position.”
The Jury: Everton fans on their new transfer deadline-day signings
Sep 3 2009 Liverpool Echo
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
IT’S great news that we can welcome three new additions to Goodison, especially our deadline day signing Johnny Heitinga, who I am sure will prove to be a massive hit with the fans. It was sad to see Lescott leave Everton, but as with everything in life you have to move on. Sylvain Distin is a straight swap for Joleon while Bilyaletdinov should add a new dimension to the midfield. You may see Steven Pienaar switch flanks to link up with former team-mate Heitinga, with ‘Billy’ forming a new partnership with Baines down the left. Moyes talked this week about ‘certain’ players needing a ‘kick up the backside’ and in my opinion the new arrivals will do this.
Everton finally got three points on Sunday against Wigan and fingers crossed with the new signings and players like Arteta, Yak and Jags returning our season can finally kick off.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
AFTER an unusually quiet deadline day I was overcome with relief when the news finally filtered through that Johnny Heitinga has signed on the dotted-line.
Though I haven’t seen a lot of the Dutchman in action, YouTube has convinced me that Moyesey has captured a top player at a bargain price. Heitinga’s arrival looks to likely to bring an end to Tony Hibbert’s place as first-choice right-back, after what has been a disappointing last couple of seasons for the boyhood Blue. Sylvain Distin looked strong and reliable on his debut on Sunday and hopefully he will be able to provide the reliability at the back that Lescott gave us. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, also, looks to be a good acquisition (again according to YouTube!), his eye for goal will be a big asset to us.
MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester
START the party – we’ve won a league game and made three signings!
Heitinga looks the part and hopefully he and Billy Boy will give us options on both flanks. However, the summer’s activity has been more about who we didn’t get and the fact that we have still not recruited a top quality midfielder or right-back, both of whom we have urgently needed for at least two seasons. Getting the Lescott money late in the day didn’t help but why did we not move earlier for players like Downing, Stephen Hunt, Tuncay, Banega? All of these would have brought quality in at affordable prices to an already very small squad and it only deepens the suspicion of many fans that cash is deliberately being kept back for the new stadium.
The Wigan win was crucial and we now have the international break to rest up most of the squad. A point or three away to Fulham after that will set us up nicely for the rest of the season.
TONY SCOTT, Walton
LESCOTT out and Heitinga, Distin and Bilyaletdinov in is very good business for me.
This is probably the strongest squad David Moyes has had in his reign here and now is the time to produce the goods. Barring Hibbert and Osman, Moyes has signed every player in the squad so now there is no excuses. Praise has to go to Moyes and Elstone for getting these players but no credit to Bill Kenwright. With just the Lescott money to spend says it all. If Lescott was to stay it looks like Moyes wouldn't have had a penny to spend even though it’s a penny more than some clubs around here.
I’m giving special praise to young Jack Rodwell lately. He is an outstanding bet to make the England World Cup squad, Leon Osman should watch him and learn.
Everton rumour mill: Blues deny Kranjcar bid, Toon Vaughan bid denied, Van der Vaart keeping January options open
Everton boss Moyes denies making offer to Tottenham's Kranjcar
Setp 4 2009, Liverpool Echo
Everton boss David Moyes has rubbished claims from Niko Kranjcar that they were turned down by the new Tottenham signing. verton last week spent £9m on the Russian international Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, a left-footed midfield player like Kranjcar, and Moyes is mystified at the claims that appeared in an interview Kranjcar gave to a Croatian newspaper. Not at any point did anyone from the club contact Portsmouth to express an interest in Niko Kranjcar," insisted the Everton manager. "In Steven Pienaar and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov we already have players who provide excellent cover in his chosen position."
Source: Tribal Football
Newcastle forced to shelve deal for Everton's Vaughan
Newcastle United boss Chris Hughton has been forced to shelve plans to sign Everton striker James Vaughan. he Mirror says the Magpies had hoped to take Vaughan on-loan from Everton but he picked up an injury in training. he England U21 striker was linked with Bolton and Hull before the market closed on Tuesday.
Source: Tribal Football
Everton target Van der Vaart keeps January options open
Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart is eyeing a January move to the Premiership.
The Dutch ace - linked with Everton and Tottenham - will fight for his Real Madrid place despite originally being snubbed for a squad number. Vn der Vaart said: "If I don't play, I could move in January."
Source: Tribal Football
David Moyes - Guus Hiddink key to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov Everton FC deal
Sept 4 2009 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has revealed the key role FA Cup Final rival Guus Hiddink played in Everton landing £10m winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. The Russian became the third biggest signing in Everton’s history during the transfer window, with his capture from Lokomotiv Moscow. He has won 28 caps for his country, who are managed by former Chelsea caretaker Hiddink – so he was the obvious man for Blues boss Moyes to turn to for an assessment of the winger’s qualities. “I spoke to Guus Hiddink a few times about Dini and he recommended him to me,” explained Moyes. “I spoke to Guus before he got to Chelsea about two other Russian players we were interested in.
“But Bily was a player we were interested in during the last transfer window and I spoke to Guus again, maybe four weeks ago, and again he spoke positively.”
GUUS HIDDINK broke David Moyes’s heart at Wembley Stadium three months ago.
But the Everton boss didn’t hold a grudge against the renowned Dutch coach.
In fact, Moyes enlisted Hiddink's help in luring potentially the most exciting signing of Everton’s transfer window activity to Goodison Park. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is a former Russian Young Player of the Year who has the ability capture the imagination of Evertonians – imagination will certainly be needed to conjure up a terrace chant to fit his name – and who cost the Blues almost £10m when he signed from Lokomotiv Moscow. But Hiddink, who guided Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008 with Bilyaletdinov a constant presence down their left flank, is confident his former charge will prove worth every penny. “I spoke to Guus Hiddink a few times about Dini and he recommended him to me,” explained Moyes. “He is a very versatile footballer.
“He can play wide on the left of midfield, but he has also played on the right quite a bit as well. “Technically he is very good. “He has a nice left foot and he has scored a few goals as well. “Guus told me that even at a push he could play left back!
“I spoke to Guus before he got to Chelsea about two other Russian players we were interested in. “But Bily was a player we were interested in during the last transfer window. “I spoke to Guus again, maybe four weeks ago, and again he spoke positively.” Bilyaletdinov was a mainstay of Russia’s charge to the last four of last summer’s tournament in Austria and Switzerland. A 3-0 defeat to the eventual winners, Spain, ended what had been a tremendous tournament for the Russians.
In addition to his ever-present appearance record in the finals, he played in 10 of Russia’s 12 qualifiers including the two clashes with England.
Hiddink, of course, exchanged that challenge to take over at Stamford Bridge and lift the most famous trophy in English football within months of his arrival.
It was perhaps significant that Everton struggled most in the FA Cup final at Wembley down their right hand flank, with Tony Hibbert substituted at half-time and Leon Osman largely ineffective. Since then, Moyes has swooped in the market for two players who can increase the competition for places down that side.
He admits, though, that Bilyaletdinov is a player who has been on his radar for some considerable time. “We have been out to Russia quite a few times to watch him,” said Moyes. “With this being the middle of their season, fitness shouldn’t be an issue.
“What we have to appreciate, however, is that this is a completely different environment for him. “I thought he looked really excited at the weekend when he came on against Wigan, but also a little overawed and apprehensive.
“We need to give him every opportunity to settle in. “One very good thing is that he already speaks very good English. He knows all about the players here already. He did his own homework on the club and didn’t need me to sell it to him. “He’s a football type of person as well.” Moyes has preached patience with all three of his major transfer window acquisitions – Dutch international Johnny Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov and Frenchman Sylvain Distin. He said: “On paper, all three players look very exciting signings. “We know what Sylvain Distin can do, but the other two players are new to the Premier League. “Their lack of experience of English football is my only concern. “It’s certainly not their ability as footballers but in the past it has taken Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, who went on to become excellent footballers for us, a period of time to settle. “So we may have to be patient with the new boys.”
Blues fans may find that their patience could be handsomely rewarded.
Everton FC's thanks to Guus Hiddink for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov tip
Sep 4 2009 Liverpool Echo
Multimedia Background image for 'FA Cup final Chelsea v Everton: Tim Cahill on Guus Hiddink' GUUS HIDDINK broke David Moyes’s heart at Wembley Stadium three months ago. But the Everton boss didn’t hold a grudge against the renowned Dutch coach. In fact, Moyes enlisted Hiddink's help in luring potentially the most exciting signing of Everton’s transfer window activity to Goodison Park.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is a former Russian Young Player of the Year who has the ability capture the imagination of Evertonians – imagination will certainly be needed to conjure up a terrace chant to fit his name – and who cost the Blues almost £10m when he signed from Lokomotiv Moscow. But Hiddink, who guided Russia to the semi-finals of Euro 2008 with Bilyaletdinov a constant presence down their left flank, is confident his former charge will prove worth every penny. “I spoke to Guus Hiddink a few times about Dini and he recommended him to me,” explained Moyes.
“He is a very versatile footballer. “He can play wide on the left of midfield, but he has also played on the right quite a bit as well. “Technically he is very good. “He has a nice left foot and he has scored a few goals as well. “Guus told me that even at a push he could play left back! “I spoke to Guus before he got to Chelsea about two other Russian players we were interested in. “But Bily was a player we were interested in during the last transfer window. “I spoke to Guus again, maybe four weeks ago, and again he spoke positively.” Bilyaletdinov was a mainstay of Russia’s charge to the last four of last summer’s tournament in Austria and Switzerland. A 3-0 defeat to the eventual winners, Spain, ended what had been a tremendous tournament for the Russians. In addition to his ever-present appearance record in the finals, he played in 10 of Russia’s 12 qualifiers including the two clashes with England. Hiddink, of course, exchanged that challenge to take over at Stamford Bridge and lift the most famous trophy in English football within months of his arrival. It was perhaps significant that Everton struggled most in the FA Cup final at Wembley down their right hand flank, with Tony Hibbert substituted at half-time and Leon Osman largely ineffective. Since then, Moyes has swooped in the market for two players who can increase the competition for places down that side. He admits, though, that Bilyaletdinov is a player who has been on his radar for some considerable time.
“We have been out to Russia quite a few times to watch him,” said Moyes.
“With this being the middle of their season, fitness shouldn’t be an issue.
“What we have to appreciate, however, is that this is a completely different environment for him. “I thought he looked really excited at the weekend when he came on against Wigan, but also a little overawed and apprehensive. “We need to give him every opportunity to settle in. “One very good thing is that he already speaks very good English. He knows all about the players here already. He did his own homework on the club and didn’t need me to sell it to him. “He’s a football type of person as well.” Moyes has preached patience with all three of his major transfer window acquisitions – Dutch international Johnny Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov and Frenchman Sylvain Distin. He said: “On paper, all three players look very exciting signings.
“We know what Sylvain Distin can do, but the other two players are new to the Premier League. “Their lack of experience of English football is my only concern.
“It’s certainly not their ability as footballers but in the past it has taken Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines, who went on to become excellent footballers for us, a period of time to settle. “So we may have to be patient with the new boys.” Blues fans may find that their patience could be handsomely rewarded.
David Prentice: An enterprising summer on Everton FC transfer front
Sept 4 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
The conspiracy theorists have been out in force again down L4 way, pointing out that David Moyes has spent only what he recouped from the reluctant sale of Joleon Lescott this summer. But if we analyse individually Everton’s transfer window activity, surely they have enjoyed an enterprising summer’s work. A 24-year-old current Russian international has been recruited to replace an ailing 30-year-old Dutchman whose solitary contribution to a four-year Everton career was a cross in the last minute of a derby match. And a 25-year-old full Dutch international has replaced an injury prone 29-year-old Danish defender. The central defensive switch is less squad enhancing. Sylvain Distin is arguably a more consistent defender than Joleon Lescott, but he’s older and certainly less likely to appear on the scoresheet. But with Phil Jagielka on his way back from injury that switch looks less damaging than it may otherwise have been. That leaves Nuno Valente and Segundo Castillo still unreplaced, but given Valente’s sum total of two appearances last season, and Castillo’s singularly unimpressive contribution, that may not be such a burden. And with Everton agreeing a fee in the region of £10m with Sheffield United for the two Kyles long before Lescott’s eventual departure, surely that means Moyes will have another £10m to spend in January won’t he? If he doesn’t, well, it’s over to you again, conspiracy theorists. l IT’S maybe not what Evertonians had in mind when they were promised big name signings, but there’s no doubt Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is one of the biggest in Premier League history. He might have been the biggest currently operating in the English top flight, until Hull City bought Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
But they both fade into the alphabetical background compared to Bolton’s Stilyianos Giannakopoulos.
Howard Kendall: I’m looking forward with great optimism
Sep 4 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
AS well as the three new major signings, Everton can hopefully look forward to the return from long term injury of Yakubu, Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka.
The Blues manager has urged fans to be patient with Yakubu, who clearly needs more time to get his fitness and sharpness back before he’s ready for a full 90 minutes.
These are three very important players at Everton but it’s vital they are not rushed back too soon, as David Moyes says.But when they do return, I believe Everton will now have a really good squad with plenty of options. Every blue is feeling better after the win against Wigan. With the new boys all now in and the others hopefully back successfully, I believe there is an awful lot to look forward to with optimism at Goodison Park this season.
Howard Kendall: Everton FC made a real coup to sign Johnny Heitinga
Sep 4 2009 by Howard Kendall, Liverpool Echo
SIGNS are David Moyes has pulled off a real coup with the signing of Johnny Heitinga. To get a player of his undoubted quality for a fee like that so close to the close of the transfer window looks like fantastic business. Look at the lad’s CV:
First of all, as a young Dutch boy he was identified by Ajax as a real top talent – and everyone knows what a fantastic set-up they have at that club. I’ve been across in the past and seen it for myself. It’s staggering and similar to the one that operated in Bilbao. They bus kids in from all over Holland in the search for talent and once they find it, they give their young recruits the most fantastic schooling. He was such an important player for Ajax and you can bet after being brought up under their system, should be a fantastic professional too. Secondly, he’s been capped almost 50 times by Holland and is still only 25. He was also the Dutch Player of the Year a couple of years back – no mean feat. OK, it is being said that he failed to shine at Atletico Madrid recently but don’t forget, they’ve had a change of manager since Heitinga joined them last year and that can affect a player. Sometimes they feel the new man doesn’t want them or rate them as highly as the coach who signed them and when that happens a fresh start is often best. Everton have nipped in to bring him to England and as David Moyes said, his versatility in being able to play in positions across the back and in front of the defence is another big bonus. I don’t know much of the Russian lad we’ve signed – Bilyaletdinov – but again he’s an international with a very good pedigree. He and Heitinga are two players the fans won’t know much about, and like me, they will be so looking forward to seeing them in the blue shirt now.
Sylvain Distin, of course, is not an unknown quantity in England, having played for three other Premier League clubs. But again, he is a defender of real quality and experience. No-one wanted Joleon Lescott to go, but now he has done all the signs are that David has spent the money we received very wisely. We’ll have to see them in action over time of course. But things have now been freshened up significantly and there’s a real sense of excitement in the air.
Johnny Heitinga - Everton FC can reach Champions League again
Sept 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOHNNY HEITINGA believes Everton can help him fulfil his ambitions to play Champions League football. The Dutch international defender decided to give up a campaign in the group stages of Europe’s premier competition with Atletico Madrid – because he believes he can get there with Everton. The 25-year-old, currently preparing to face Japan in a friendly international this weekend, joined the Blues on transfer deadline day in a £6m switch from Madrid. Eyebrows were raised in Spain when the highly-rated and versatile defender opted to turn his back on a Champions League campaign for a move to Merseyside. But Heitinga declared: “I have come to Everton to play in the Champions League and I will give everything for every game.
“It was difficult to leave (Atletico) as it was my first year there. I played every game and we were in the Champions League – but the feeling to play for Everton was big.
“I am proud that I signed for the People’s Club. “When I travelled to Liverpool, the first time I stepped onto the training pitch I felt one of them. It is a club with a very big history.” But while Heitinga explained his reasons for choosing Everton, Argentine international Ever Banega explained why he turned his back on a move to The Toffees, even though they went as far as getting a work permit approved for him.
It was believed that his club, Valencia, blocked the move, but the 22-year-old explained it was his own decision to stay put in la Liga. “I feel that I am more mature now and that I still have many things to learn and show in Spain, that’s why I decided not be transferred to the English league,” said Banega – who spent last term on loan at Atletico Madrid. “It was me who didn’t want to leave, I wanted to continue because I think in having a place in the team and I want to continue in that way. “Besides what is said about me, I think about my team and about being a good team mate, look at the unity that our team showed last weekend on the pitch and I hope that it all continues in this way. “You must know when you can do certain things and when you can’t. Thanks to the support of important players I am more mature, I am learning many new things and that’s good for me and for the team.” The Blues, meanwhile, have announced a number of fixture changes as a result of their qualification for the Europa League group stages. The visit of Blackburn Rovers to Goodison Park has been switched to Sunday, September 20; the visit of Stoke will also be on a Sunday, October 4 (3pm); the trip to Bolton has been put back to Sunday, October 25 with a 1,30pm kick-off; the away game at West Ham now Sunday, November 8 (3pm); the scheduled trip to Hull on December 15 now postponed because of the visit of Bate Borisov 48 hours later, and the home game with Birmingham originally earmarked for the Saturday before Christmas has now put back to Sunday, December 20 (3pm).
Everton FC transfer window signings you may have missed
Sep 5 2009 Liverpool Echo
IT’S maybe not what Evertonians had in mind when they were promised big name signings, but there’s no doubt Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is a very big name – at a Scrabble-busting 20-letters one of the biggest in Premier League history in fact.
He might even have been the biggest currently operating in the English top flight, until Hull City went and bought Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. But it’s not just the big names who kept Everton manager David Moyes busy in the latest transfer window.
Bilyaletdinov, Johnny Heitinga, Sylvain Distin and Jo might have commanded the headlines – but the Blues actually added eight names to their squad during the transfer window. As well as spending millions on players for the present, Everton boss Moyes worked equally hard, scouring the globe to find the hidden gems who will shape the club’s future. Anton Peterlin, Cody Arnoux, Shkodran Mustafi and Luke Garbutt were all signed with one eye on the future. Today we give you a run-down on the four players who may have slipped under your Everton radar this summer.
1. CODY ARNOUX
WHEN Yakubu scored after barely 30 seconds of his Everton reserve team comeback recently, Evertonians licked their lips in relish. Twenty-one year old Cody Arnoux, however, might have been forgiven for shrugging and saying “so what?”
Last year the American scored two goals in 36 seconds for Wake Forest University against Davidson – and established an impressive reputation Stateside as a prolific goalscorer. Signed from Carolina Dynamo, after impressing in the same trial that also saw midfielder Anton Peterlin join the Blues, the New Yorker scored 13 goals in 16 appearances in the USA’s Premier Development League (the fourth tier of US soccer, with a standard equivalent to the English Conference). Die-hard Blues fans may already have grabbed a glimpse of the 5’10” marksman. On Tuesday night at Manchester City Reserves, Cody came on at half-time for Yakubu and he was an unused substitute in the Blues’ pre-season friendly with Championship side Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on August 4. Having earned international honours at Under-15 and Under-18 level, Arnoux played for Wake Forest University before making the switch to Dynamo earlier this year, and signed a one-year-deal with the club.
With the striking positions some of the most hotly contested at Goodison, the youngster will have his work cut out trying to force his way ahead of Saha, Yakubu, Anichebe, Vaughan, Jo and co. but he is determined to take his big chance.
2. SHKODRAN MUSTAFI
GERMAN players have far from an illustrious history at Everton but one of the club’s summer signings will be looking to change all that. Goalkeeper Stefan Wessels made seven appearances for the Blues during the 2007/08 campaign, including a debut against Manchester United, but his services were not retained. His fellow countryman Shkodran Mustafi, however, is looking to make a bigger impact. The 17-year-old central defender joined David Moyes’ side in July on a three-year-contract. A German Under-17 international, he moved to the Premier League after three season with Bundesliga outfit Hamburg. Mustafi’s rise through the national ranks is causing a stir in his homeland and given the right opportunities, the Bad Hersfeld born star could go on to become the first ever full German international at Goodison Park. No fee was involved in his switch, although the club are required to pay FIFA training compensation. Mustafi said: “I had three good years at Hamburg but now this is a new chapter. It was a hard decision to leave home but it’s another country, another language and I’m looking forward to it. “I hope I have a good start and I can learn to improve on my weaknesses. Then I hope I can move through the reserves into the first team and get a chance to prove myself. I feel like I will get that chance here.”
3. LUKE GARBUTT
JUDGING by the reaction from Leeds at the capture of young Luke Garbutt, Everton have snapped up a potential star of the future. While David Moyes railed against Manchester City’s prolonged pursuit of Joleon Lescott, Elland Road chairman Ken Bates was typically outspoken about a Premier League club “nicking Leeds players and paying peanuts.” Garbutt is an England under-17 left-back whose move to Goodison first made headlines after he informed pals on his Facebook site he was leaving Elland Road for Everton. Whatever stir Everton’s capture of the starlet may have caused in Yorkshire, they can draw comfort in the fact they have a player for the future who turned down an apparently “exceptional offer” and instead joined Everton.
Garbutt played for Everton Reserves in Tuesday night’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester City and in Leeds the youngster was widely regarded as a certain first team prospect in the making having become a regular fixture in the Leeds reserve side last year.
But with United failing to tie Garbutt down on a professional contract, Everton pounced to sign the Harrogate born player as a scholar. Garbutt has already represented England at Under-16 and Under-17 level, scoring for the latter.
4. ANTON PETERLIN
ANTON PETERLIN’S move to Merseyside from American minnows Ventura County Fusion has been likened to the plot of the Hollywood movie Goal! If the defensive midfielder goes on to echo Santiago Munez and score a last minute winner against Liverpool to secure Champions League football, Blues fans will be ecstatic!
Peterlin was first recommended to David Moyes by Graham Smith, head coach of Peterlin's former team, Ventura County Fusion (but not the former Everton Youth coach). Fusion play in the US Development League (a standard equivalent to the English Conference) and while it’s been a long time since footballers like John Barton and Eamonn O’Keefe made the switch from non-league football to the Blues first team, the example of US defender Jay DeMerit, who moved from non-league Northwood to Premier League Watford, shows that it’s possible. All that’s missing is the movie deal. “It really is dream come true,” said Peterlin.
“I’ve always aspired to play at the highest level.”
Barry Horne: Tony Hibbert set for Johnny Heitinga Everton FC challenge
Sep 5 2009 Liverpool Echo
ALTHOUGH the Everton fans were given a stressful 95 minutes at Goodison Park on Sunday, there were many positives to take out of the game. The current form of Steven Pienaar, Tim Howard and Jo, the continued progress and maturity of Jack Rodwell, not to mention a solid debut for Sylvain Distin all made for good viewing.
The three new signings also promise to improve a thread– bare squad, although it’s ironic that the signing of Johnny Heitinga comes at a time when Tony Hibbert is showing his best ever form as an attacking full-back. That was the one area of his game that fans felt was lacking, but in the last two games he has been excellent.
The size of the crowd and the support from them in the circum– stances was fantastic, but the most important factor for me was the way the side rallied after going a goal down, albeit totally against the run of play. With two defeats and, let’s be honest, below par form fresh in the memory, it was a superb reaction. After a lot of talk about our “disastrous” start to the season Everton now find themselves one win away from sixth place and a series of league fixtures coming up against Fulham, Blackburn, Portsmouth, Stoke, Wolves and Bolton. There’s no reason why Everton can’t be right back up there by the time they face Aston Villa on Halloween. Factor into that the three new signings and hopefully the return to the team of Yakubu and Mikel Arteta, then come November that “disastrous” start will seem like a distant memory.
l If the way UEFA handled the Eduardo incident raised the suspicion of bias against English teams, the treatment meted out to Chelsea merely deepened those fears.
There’s a good chance that the Kakuta case will be subject to a long drawn out legal battle with European employment law as well as football law being considered.
What people should remember is that the rules are put in place to protect smaller clubs’ financial interests and to protect welfare of young players. In this case, however, neither of those seems to be an issue and Chelsea, like Arsenal, seem to be victims of arbitrary decision making.
Royal Blue: 10 things you didn’t know about Johnny Heitinga
Sept 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ABOUT new Everton signing Johnny Heitinga . . .
1. On his personal website, he lists his favourite colour as . . . red!
2. His girlfriend, Charlotte Sophie is the sister of fellow Dutch international Boudejwin ‘Bolo’ Zenden, the former Liverpool and Chelsea winger.
3) He was born on November 15, 1983 in Alphen aan den Rijn, a town situated in the west of Holland.
4) He joined the fabled Ajax youth academy aged seven after his mum had treated him to a coaching course at the club.
5) He has won 47 caps for his country scoring six goals.
6) He won the Netherlands' Player of the Year award in 2007/08, following in the footsteps of Middlesbrough striker Afonso Alves.
7) His favourite food is Indian.
8) His lists his hero as his mum.
9) Among his greatest moments are his Ajax debut, against arch rivals Feyenoord, winning the Eredivisie title for the first time with Ajax and meeting girlfriend Charlotte Sophie for the first time
10). He scored three goals for Atletico Madrid last season.
Royal Blue: ESPN secure rights to Everton’s Europa League campaign
Sept 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
AFTER C5’s bizarre decision to screen the second leg of Everton’s Europa League play-off – effectively a dead rubber – after ignoring the entertaining first leg, Blues fans can be reassured about their club’s future European ties. ESPN have secured the rights for the remainder of the Europa League. After confirming the deal, Jeroen Oerlemans, the man with the impressive title ‘Vice President, TV Channels Europe, Middle East and Africa’ said: “We’re delighted to be able to broadcast the UEFA Europa League from this season and are looking forward to having some of the best clubs in Europe competing against each other on ESPN. This year we look forward to following Everton, Fulham and Celtic.” A UEFA spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have signed this deal with ESPN.” Blues fans said: “Not before time!”
Royal Blue: When Brian Moore presented Everton FC’s perfect Match
Sept 5 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
BIG hair, big personalities . . . tiny shorts, The Big Match is back. And it’s an unqualified treat. If you’re short of an Everton fix during this international break, look no further than the latest addition to ITV Sport’s Big Match series. Football DVDs are 10-a-penny, YouTube clips even more plentiful (Everton 3 Ipswich 3 from 1975 with the visitors’ comedy equaliser is well worth a glance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i1kuzpa9EM).
But this wonderfully resourced collection offers games you genuinely haven’t seen for 25 years or more – together with post-match analysis which, with the gift of hindsight, is video gold. Bob Wilson was an Arsenal goalkeeper in August 1969, as well as a rookie broadcaster, so he could have been forgiven for commenting on Gordon West’s withdrawal from England’s World Cup squad by saying: “I would give my right arm to play for England.” He did get an international call-up not long after – for Scotland!
But that’s far from the only Homer Simpson moment (Doh!) After Alan Ball had crashed a typically superlative winner against Newcastle at Goodison Park, Brian Moore – resplendent in pink blazer – declared: “There, I suppose, you have one of the happiest sights of the season both for Everton and England as well. Alan Ball, so firmly back in business.” Barely eight weeks later he was plying his business in an Arsenal jersey. Just the merest glimpses of Ball’s performance in those 1971 highlights begged the question “Why did Catterick sell him?” There were other performances, however, that begged the contrasting query: “What was The Catt on when he bought him?” David Lawson and Tiger McLaughlan spring instantly to mind.
But while this collection spans a period when Everton won just one solitary piece of silverware – 1969-1982 – it’s still a celebration. There are 15 straight Everton victories, piledrivers from David Clements, rampant away wins at Leicester and Loftus Road, an even more stunning home win over Coventry, and the days when Steve McMahon goals were celebrated by Evertonians, before they realised that his name scanned beautifully into a song about brass bands. Forty-somethings will have long forgotten memories jolted like some Pavlovian bell. Remember the tannoy annoucer greeting goals with: “Come on lads, get off the pitch!” Commentators getting overly excited about what now seem like routine goalkeeping saves, managers chain smoking, substitutes wearing tracksuits and parkas and footballers challenging pitchside interviewers with perceptive and intelligent answers. “Are you concerned by your’s team’s defending,” asked Elton Welsby Ipswich skipper Mick Mills smiled and hit back: “We’re second in the table. In fact you should be thanking us for playing attractive attacking football, rather than asking about our defence.”
And then there are the quite outstanding opening credits. Was football really funnier in the 1970s? Were there more characters? or did TV producers simply spend more time preparing entertaining intros to their programmes? The Big Match went out on a Sunday lunch-time, and I could almost smell my mum’s roast dinner as I sat transfixed and ever so slightly misty eyed. Yes, I really was behind that goal 34 years ago when Dave Clements left fly from 25 yards, yes, Micky Bernard really was that agricultural in his tackling, and Bob Latchford was actually even better than I remembered (you’re not surprised are you?). And if you thought squad numbering was a modern phenomenon, look out for inside forward Jim Pearson wearing number four, centre back John Hurst in 10, David Johnson in number 11 and Big Joe Royle, as unalterably a centre-forward as you’ll ever find, wearing number seven.
Apparently there are more than an hour’s worth of extras too – gems like The BIG Match Fun Spot, Viewers Letters, Jimmy Hill on Refereeing and Jim Rosenthal’s Newsdesk. I say ‘apparently’ because such is the quality of the match offerings I haven’t gone near them yet. he Big Match – Everton. Strongly recommended,
BENTLEY'S GOTTA FIGHT FOR FUTURE
6th September 2009 Daily Star
By Paul Hetherington
DAVID Bentley has been told to knuckle down and fight for his place at Spurs after possible moves to Manchester City and Everton failed to come off. Everton boss David Moyes wanted Bentley – and City chief Mark Hughes also considered a move for the midfielder. Both clubs were ready to pay £9million, or take the England international on loan. But Spurs chairman Daniel Levy wanted to claw back the £15m Bentley (right) cost a year earlier. Ex-Blackburn star Bentley, 25, could still be a target for Everton and City when the transfer window re-opens. But for now the winger needs to impress Harry Redknapp in order to re-establish himself at White Hart Lane. Meanwhile, a proposed loan swap, which would have taken Sunderland central defender Anton Ferdinand to Spurs with right-back Alan Hutton going in the opposite direction, failed to materialise. Scotland ace Hutton preferred to stay in London and do what Bentley now has to do – fight for his place.
Everton FC chief defiant after Ken Bates "nicking" claims over Leeds youngster Luke Garbutt
Sept 7 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON chief executive Robert Elstone insisted today that Everton had “played by the rules” in their capture of promising Leeds youngster Luke Garbutt, after Elland Road chairman Ken Bates accused the Blues of “nicking” the youngster.
Everton will attend a tribunal today to set the compensation figure they must pay Leeds for the young England starlet. And it is no coincidence that Leeds’ 77-year-old chairman chose the eve of the hearing to launch a withering attack. “On Monday we have a tribunal for Garbutt, who Everton nicked from us,” said Bates. “We are dissatisfied. We’re chasing the matter with the Football League and the Premier League and we are seeking substantial compensation. “The days of nicking Leeds players and paying peanuts are over. We are determined to be adequately compensated for the work we are doing in our academy. “I hope the ruling that has been handed down from FIFA on Chelsea will set the scene. It certainly sends a message to the Football League compensation tribunal about compensation.” Blues chief executive Robert Elstone, however, was adamant that Everton had not acted improperly in their pursuit of the young defender. “We are very comfortable that we have played by the rules,” he declared “and we are very comfortable that the club elected to go to a tribunal to establish a fair value. “They are the two salient points for me. We absolutely played by the rules. There is a right way to do business and that’s the way we conduct ourselves here, while the tribunal is there to establish a fair value for the player.” Bates, however, is unrepentant. Last month, Leeds lost promising teenagers George Swann and Louis Hutton to City, while England under-17 captain Luke Garbutt left for Goodison Park. Bates said: “Big clubs who strip other clubs’ youth policy should face stiff penalties. “How can Manchester City pay £24 million for Joleon Lescott and take two of our 14-year-olds – and only offer us £70,000? They've spent £200m on new players and that's all they are offering.” Garbutt, 16, starred for the national under-17 side that competed at the European Championships earlier this year, scoring England's only goal of the finals against Holland in their 1-1 draw.
New Russian role for Everton FC’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
Sept 7 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON new boy Diniyar Bilyaletdinov started at left-back for Russia in a rain-soaked St Petersburg on Saturday. But Guus Hiddink’s much changed line-up made light work of Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier. Centre-back Vasili Berezutsky opened the scoring in the Group Four match before Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko settled the contest with two goals before the break. Coach Hiddink was missing Andrei Arshavin, Yuri Zhirkov and Denis Kolodin through injury, hence Bilyaletdinov’s selection at full-back. But the changes did not prevent Russia from recording a simple victory. Russia led 3-0 at the break, but worsening conditions and a slippery pitch made for a scrappy second 45 minutes. Hiddink’s side now go to Wales on Wednesday night. But the Russian coach’s afternoon was spoilt slightly by a yellow card to Igor Denisov who will now miss the match in Cardiff through suspension.
Luke Garbutt worth every penny say Everton who are told to pay up to £1million to Leeds
Sept 8 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON today insisted the money they have been forced to pay for hot prospect Luke Garbutt will prove to be well spent. A tribunal of the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee last night decided in London that the Blues had to shell out an initial £600,000 to Leeds United following Garbutt’s summer move from Elland Road. That figure was significantly more than Everton anticipated, particularly as they had initially offered £200,000 for the 16-year-old defender, who is an England youth international and considered as someone for the future. The panel - which was made up of representatives from the Football League, Premier League, PFA and FA - clearly came at the wrong time for Everton, given the recent furore surrounding Chelsea and their case with French teenager Gael Kakuta. There have been several other situations in the last couple of days regarding young players being lured away by bigger clubs and it is Everton’s misfortune that they have ended up being forced to foot a hefty bill. That, though, is not something they are going to dwell on as if they end up having to pay the final figure - which is closer to £1.55m if clauses for honours, appearances and international caps are triggered - it will mean Garbutt has been a huge success. Garbutt is not considered ready to be involved with Everton’s first team yet but he is certainly a young man with potential and he will be given time to mature at the club’s Finch Farm Academy. Academy director Ray Hall said today: “This is very much a transfer for the future for Everton. It’s not an uncommon move to make – many Premier League clubs invest in young talent with a view to nurturing and developing them.“We are all delighted to have Luke at the club. He is an excellent prospect and he will be allowed to mature and learn his trade with our Academy staff and players. “I know the manager will be keeping an eye on his progress, as he does with all our boys, and if he looks ready to make the next step up then he may get his chance. “We have shown on a regular basis that we are prepared to give youngsters an opportunity at Everton.” This is not the first time the Blues have looked down the leagues to recruit younger players and in recent years they brought in Scott Spencer from Oldham, Lukas Jutkiewicz from Swindon Town and, most successfully, Dan Gosling from Plymouth Argyle. Garbutt had started his footballing education with Leeds’ Academy at Thorp Arch but chose to move to Merseyside rather than accept the terms that were offered to him by the League One club.
Meanwhile, Joseph Yobo was expected back at Finch Farm today following Nigeria’s 2-2 draw with Tunisia at the weekend, which has left the Super Eagles hopes of reaching the World Cup hanging in the balance. But there are still a number of first team players away on international duty and boss David Moyes will be keeping a close eye on several fixtures tonight and tomorrow. Steven Pienaar is in action for South Africa against the Republic of Ireland in Limerick this evening, while Jack Rodwell will be involved as England’s Under-21s tackle Greece in Tripoli.
First photo of Everton legend Dixie Dean in a football kit to be auctioned
Sept 8 2009 by Lorna Hughes, Liverpool Echo
Dixie Dean with other members of Birkenhead Boys' Club in the 1920-21 season. The photo is believed to be the first picture of Tranmere/Everton legend Dixie wearing any kind of football kit 460 THIS postcard is thought to be the first photo of goal-scoring legend Dixie Dean in a football kit. The picture postcard shows the Birkenhead Boys’ team in the 1920-21 season, with Dixie centre-front. Appropriately for a man who went on to score 349 goals for Everton – including 60 in one season – the ball is at his feet. Dean, who was born on January 22, 1907, would have been 13 or 14 at the time.
He started his senior career with Tranmere Rovers in the 1923-24 season and signed for the Blues in 1925. The picture is expected to fetch up to £800 at a sports memorabilia auction in association with Sotheby’s in London on October 28.
It follows the discovery last month of the earliest-known photograph of Dean in an Everton strip, which will be sold at the same auction. Graham Budd, of Graham Budd Auctioneers, said: “A member of the public came forward with the postcard during a valuation day at Aintree Racecourse on Thursday. A number of people came to see us with Dixie Dean items after reading theECHO story last week about the first photo of him in an Everton kit. “I can only imagine that this was a small, local boys’ team and the picture was probably commissioned by one of the parents, meaning only a handful were ever produced.” The photographer who took the picture was W.J. McCulloch of 561 New Chester Road, Rock Ferry. Mr Budd said: “It’s a wonderful postcard and you can see Dixie clearly at the front. “He has the ball at his feet so he could have been the captain of the team. “It might well be the earliest image we have of him in any kind of footballing context.”
NIGEL MARTYN: Time is right for Everton FC to build up a head of steam
Sep 8 2009 Liverpool Echo
AFTER so much stopping and starting, the new Premier League campaign is finally set for take off this weekend. Now David Moyes has recruited the players who he wanted before the window shut and there are seven games to contest before the next international break, there is a chance to build up a head of steam. First on the agenda, of course, is a trip to Craven Cottage and we must hope that the win on the final day of last season has a similar effect to when we won at Tottenham for the first time in 21 years. Following up with two more victories has meant that White Hart Lane is no longer a bogey ground and I see no reason why we can’t take three points off Fulham.
The next couple of weeks, however, will go a long way to shaping the season and it’s vital that Sylvain Distin, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and John Heitinga get settled in quickly. Fortunately the new boys won’t walk into a dressing room like I did all those years ago that contained an absolute lunatic in the form of Thomas Gravesen – some of things he thought were funny were actually quite scary and certainly not suitable for publication! But I’ve no doubt they will be quickly welcomed with open arms; they will be intergrated into the way things are done off the pitch in the same way that they will be told how set pieces are defended. And once the three new boys start to feel at home, you will see the difference in the levels of their performances; all being well, they will help us negotiate a difficult month. Aside from Premier League games against Fulham, Blackburn, Portsmouth and Stoke, there is a Carling Cup tie at Hull and two Europa League tussles with AEK Athens and Bate Borisov. Should we come through those unscathed – and there is no reason why we can’t – we will be able to start to thinking about getting back to where we belong.
Tony Hibbert will show he is ready to fight
HAVING spent £6m to sign a right-back, it’s fair to say that John Heitinga will be be expected to come in and push for a first team spot with immediate effect.
But one man who will see things differently is Everton’s longest serving player, Tony Hibbert, a player who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. In the same way that many people will, perhaps unfairly, see Leon Osman being the man to make way for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, they will assume that Hibbo will now have to play second fiddle to Heitinga. Hibbo, though, is someone who relishes a challenge and you could see the way he played in the win over Wigan Athletic that he is up for the challenge.
There was no sign of his confidence being dented following an unfortunate red card in the Europa League game and his energy was terrific. He also produced one outstanding cross on the run that Tim Cahill should have scored from – clear to see, then, that he won’t surrender his place without fight. I’ve no doubt that Heitinga will prove to be a top-class addition but it would be wrong if anyone thinks that Hibbo will just stand aside
Sylvain Distin - Everton can overcome big spending Premier League rivals Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur
Sept 8 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
SYLVAIN DISTIN believes intense competition will bring the best out of Everton’s squad this season – and give them an edge over their rivals. While Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur spent big money during the summer to revamp their squads, Everton ‘only’ brought four new faces in before the window closed. Distin, of course, was among that quartet – he cost £5m when leaving Portsmouth last month – and he made an impressive start to life at Goodison in the 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic.
That last-gasp victory belatedly helped get Everton off the mark for the campaign and prevented them falling further behind Spurs and Distin’s old club City, both of whom are pushing to break into the top four after flying starts. But while some people feel Everton are going to struggle to peg back those sides, Distin has no such concerns and is confident his new employers will be in the mix for a European place next May thanks to the experience they have gleaned in recent seasons. City’s huge spending spree may have altered the face of the game but, as far as Distin is concerned, it does not necessarily guarantee them success; if anything, he sees Everton’s foundations as being stronger. “When you have players who have played together for a long time, that is a plus and it is not just getting players – it is about getting the right players,” said the French defender. “Everton have proved that they can do it but they know it will be tough. That is not due to Everton, that is due to Manchester City who have invested a lot of money. “That has got nothing to do with Everton; they haven’t sold their best players or have a financial problem. The competition will be tougher but that suits us great. “If you want to be in the top seven or eight you will have to fight hard because apart from the top four there are four or five other teams who are really going to be after good times. “I wanted to move to a club that was a lot more stable, they are always in the top six or top seven for a few years now and the team hasn’t changed too much. “They are trying to improve the squad rather so stability is really important. I’m not the kind of player who wants to change club every year – I feel comfortable and happy where I am.” Distin will get the opportunity to build on that first performance when the Blues travel to Fulham on Sunday and another Evertonian hoping to follow suit is James Wallace. He made his senior bow in the second leg of the Europa League play-off against SK Sigma Olomouc and the 17-year-old hopes it will be the first of many. “It really meant a lot to me,” said Wallace, who has been a regular in the squad for the past 12 months. “I was just delighted to make my first team debut in a competitive game. “I had a feeling about it when I got taken off in the reserve game (two days before the Sigma game) with 15 minutes to go, I thought I could be in with a little shout. “At the game Steve Round told me to warm up and I thought I could get on. I know I still have much to work on and I will keep going and keep working. “I’ll keep playing for the reserves and keep pushing hard and hopefully I’ll make an appearance in the Premier League.”
Everton manager David Moyes has a dilemma on Cahill and Fellaini
Sept 9 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has admitted he is facing a dilemma on how best to fit Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini into the same team. Everton return to Premier League action at Fulham on Sunday and Moyes now has a number of selection issues.
But while many supporters will be wondering how he intends to squeeze Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and John Heitinga into his starting line-up, a bigger riddle revolves around Cahill and Fellaini – last season’s joint-leading scorers. When Everton beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 before the international break, Cahill started in his preferred role behind Louis Saha and Fellaini dropped down to the bench. The end result saw Cahill enjoy his best performance of the campaign to date but Fellaini also flourished when coming on in the final 20 minutes to change the game. Now Moyes – who will watch new signing Heitinga play for Holland against Scotland tonight – must decide whether to do something similar at Craven Cottage, as he has revealed one of his attacking midfielders will have to miss out in certain games. “There will be times when I use Tim in some games and Fellaini in others and not both together,” said Moyes. “But, as well as that, I know I can play them together if I have to. “Once I get a squad, that will happen. At the moment, I don’t have a squad to make those decisions. “I thought Felli had his best game (of the season) against Olomouc. His second season will be tough. I thought the first six months of this season would be the hardest for him. “I thought this might be the hardest period and he might find it tough to reach those heights again. He has been a bit down but the good thing is that he knows about it, he is aware of it. “That gives me great hope. When players don’t recognise that they are not playing as well as they should be, that’s when you have problems but Felli recognises he can play much better.” Fellaini’s summer, of course, was decimated when he picked up a debilitating virus and he spent much of pre-season desperately trying to rediscover his fitness. The squad Moyes will take to London this weekend will have a more robust look to it and he feels an indication of how Everton can expect to fare will be gauged by looking at the bench. “Felli made a big impact when he came on and altered the tempo,” said Moyes. “We haven’t always had the options on the bench to change things around, certainly not this season. When we get Mikel and Yak back in the coming months, I can see us having a much stronger squad.”
Leeds call for points deduction over ‘predator clubs’ after Everton sign Luke Garbutt
Sep 9 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
LEEDS have called for possible points deductions for “predator clubs” who poach promising teenagers – on a day when Manchester City became the latest Premier League power to be embroiled in a row over the signing of a French teenager.
City insist they have acted “within the rules” over the signing of 17-year-old defender Jeremy Helan from Rennes, but FIFA have confirmed they are investigating a complaint by the French club. Chelsea have been banned from making any new signings for two transfer windows after being found guilty of inducing Gael Kakuta to breach his contract with Lens – while Le Havre have made accusations about Manchester United’s acquisition of another French teenager, Paul Pogba.
In recent years, Leeds have won compensation totalling several million pounds from Chelsea after losing three young players to the London club, and yesterday were told they will get £600,000 compensation from Everton for 16-year-old defender Luke Garbutt. The teenager opted to sign his first professional contract with Everton in the summer – instead of Leeds, where he had spent eight years in their Academy.
Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey believes such compensation is inadequate, and has called on the game’s authorities to hold a full review of the registration system.
Harvey said: “Compensation awards, we feel, are no longer a sufficient deterrent – and perhaps now is the time to start considering points deductions. “We need to arrive at a system whereby in any transfer there is a willing buyer, willing seller and willing player. “If we’d had an option we would have chosen to keep the player. We feel we were deprived of the opportunity to develop the player to his full potential.
“We now appeal to the football authorities to mount a combined review of the registration system in place domestically to provide further financial assurances for clubs who lose players to predator clubs.”In the case of Helan and Manchester City, the club insist they have done nothing wrong and that there was already a civil court dispute between the teenager and Rennes before he moved to Eastlands.
City said in a statement: “Manchester City is aware of the ongoing contractual dispute between Jeremy Helan and Stade Rennais. The dispute pre-dates any interest from Manchester City. “Manchester City obviously cannot comment on the case until the French judicial process has run its course; however, we are comfortable that we have acted within the rules throughout the process and in no way induced any breach of contract by Jeremy Helan.”
Everton FC striker Victor Anichebe returns to full training
Sept 10 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo VICTOR ANICHEBE has given Everton a welcome boost by finally returning to full training. The Nigerian striker has been out of action since he badly damaged his knee ligaments following an horrific tackle by Kevin Nolan during a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United on February 22.
It had been hoped that Anichebe would have been back in action long before now but his rehabilitation has taken longer than anticipated, following a minor setback early last month. However, the 21-year-old has now been given the green light to join in with the rest of David Moyes’ squad once again and – provided all goes to plan in the next couple of days – he could be included in the travelling party to Fulham this weekend. This is going to be a big season for Anichebe, who might have left Goodison Park during the summer – he was the subject of interest from Cardiff City and Hull City – had he not been injured. But he has made a big impression on his team-mates with the attitude he has shown since returning to the fold and his ability to play on the right-side of midfield, as well as up front, could end up being useful for Moyes, who is not over blessed with numbers. Meanwhile, Anichebe’s compatriot Ayegbeni Yakubu is continuing to work his way back to gaining match fitness and is determined to be firing on all cylinders sooner rather than later. Yakubu made his first competitive appearance for nine months when getting 70 minutes in a reserve game late last month and followed it up two days later when coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with SK Sigma Olomouc. Moyes has warned supporters on a number of occasions not to expect too much too soon for Yakubu but the most expensive striker in Everton’s history is determined to give his manager a pleasant surprise.
“It’s good to be back involved again as nine months out was just too long,” said Yakubu, who ruptured his Achilles tendon last November. “I just want to play and entertain again and with a few more games, I’m sure I’ll be fine. “Training has been good and I am happy with my condition. I feel like I am getting better all the time and I don’t think it will be long before I am right there. “It’s been frustrating being out – really it’s been hell watching from the stands and on television. Now I just want to play injury-free for a long time. “We’ll just have to see how everything goes. Mentally I feel sharp and I know that the players are behind me. I have my confidence and I am going to work hard in training.” ∙ Everton’s fixture list has been subject to another change, with the Premier League game at Hull City being brought forward to November 25 (7.45pm). The Blues were originally scheduled to travel to the KC Stadium on December 15 but that has been scraped due to their involvement in the Europa League.
David Prentice: Ken Bates off target about kid-nappers
Sept 11 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
KEN BATES was about as subtle as a rubber cosh to the temple.
Leeds United’s ageing but still spiky chairman waited until a day before an FA tribunal before ranting about Premier League clubs "nicking his players for peanuts."
Suitably chastened, the tribunal stung Everton for £600,000. But while poaching is currently football’s cause celebre, Bates is wrong if he's trying to lump Everton in with the kid-nappers. Chelsea have invested a fortune in their Cobham Academy. But the last player to go from there to their first team was John Terry. Everton, in the last decade alone, have produced England internationals David Unsworth, Michael Ball, Gavin McCann, Francis Jeffers and, of course, he who must not be named.
They’ve produced under-21 stars Danny Cadamarteri, Peter Clarke, John Ebbrell, Michael Branch, James Vaughan and the imperious Jack Rodwell; Victor Anichebe is a full Nigerian international and Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman current first team regulars. The Blues may scour the country from emerging young talent like Luke Garbutt. But they don’t do it at the expense of their own flourishing Youth Academy.
David Prentice: Liverpool should be the venue for National Football Museum
Sept 11 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
IF you know your history . . . It’s a battle cry which is synonymous with one side of this famous footballing city, but the sentiment is equally relevant to blue and red.
Which is why the following statement should send a shudder down the spine of every Scouse football fan. “Talks are under way to move the National Football Museum from its current home in Preston to Manchester.” That’s right. The Urbis Centre in the heart of Manchester is offering a new home to an attraction which brings in 100,000 visitors a year to its present base at Deepdale, but is struggling to survive due to a lack of funding. The National Football Museum has been in Preston since 2001.
But before the decision was taken to house the nation’s first national football museum there, a campaign was launched to bring it here, to the capital of football.
Former Echo Sports Editor Ken Rogers was the man who waged that campaign.
He was met with the same kind of apathy which saw The Cavern turned into a car park and the the nation’s first purpose built boxing stadium turned into an NCP.
Surely we can’t pass up an opportunity like this? If the Museum is forced to move – and Preston quite rightly aren’t giving up without a fight – there must be a venue in this city suitable to house it. And with the David France/Everton Collection already here, we could add significantly to the already impressive exhibits which include the ball from the 1966 World Cup final, Maradona's shirt from the ‘Hand of God’ game and the oldest FA Cup trophy. Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said the existence of two Premier League football clubs in his city was already a major draw for visitors to Manchester, so having the museum in the city made “perfect sense.” Well Wow-ee. So Manchester can provide two Premier League football clubs?
At risk of sounding like John Cleese kicking off on the Romans, what has Manchester ever actually done for football?
Liverpool’s part in the history and heritage of professional football in this country is surely unmatched.
Just off the top of my head (now take a deep breath) we’ve provided the inventor of goalnets, more league title wins than any other city, have a one hundred per cent appearance record in the top flight, have clubs who stand first and second in the list of most league points collected, we’ve provided the man who has scored the most goals in a league game (Bunny Bell), the man who made the most consecutive appearances (Harold Bell), scored the most Cup goals (Ian Rush), the most league goals in a single season (the immortal Dixie), provided one of the teams for the first game televised nationally (Everton v Arsenal 1936), the first Match of the Day (Liverpool v Arsenal 1964), and the first colour broadcast (Liverpool v West Ham 1969).
We’ve been the most successful city in Europe (by a mile), provided the first club to be presented with the League Championship trophy, the first club to stage an FA Cup final (in 1894), was the first city to issue regular match programmes for home fixtures, boast the first club to install dugouts, a half-time scoreboard and then undersoil heating (all Everton), have the first club to win a penalty shootout in the European Cup (the Blues again in 1970) and can offer the only club to stage a World Cup semi-final in Britain. And that’s without mentioning the worldwide impact of a song from Carousel and a terrace named after a Boer War battle. Preston always seemed a logical choice for a National Football Museum, with its founder member status of the Football League and North End being the first club to win the League and FA Cup double. But if Preston has to reluctantly bid farewell to the National Football Museum, Liverpool is surely the most appropriate city to step into the breach.
If the past is to have a future, surely it should be here in the capital of football.
Howard Kendall: Signing youngsters is nothing new for major clubs
Sep 11 2009 Liverpool Echo
POACHING young players has become the current in vogue topic but clubs have always looked at other Academies and tried to find a way of signing their outstanding youngsters. It’s gone on for years. Your rivals would go to any lengths to hold on to their best assets and I remember my chief scout going to watch certain games when clubs would refuse to give out teamsheets, as they wanted to keep the names of those with great promise quiet. Money, more often than not, would ultimately prove decisive but there were occasions when parents would move their children from one club to another purely because the length of deal they had been offered was better.
We don’t know the full ins and out of what has gone on with Chelsea but don’t for one minute think that this will be the first and last case that gets punished and it will be interesting to see how many other clubs become embroiled. Everton, of course, have been involved in their own contentious junior transfer this week but it must be stressed they did absolutely nothing wrong and nor have Leeds, who had every right to take the case to a tribunal. I just hope for the sake of Luke Garbutt that he gets a chance in the future to prove his worth because, right now, he is at the back of a long list of left-backs and maybe with hindsight he would have been better staying at Leeds for another year or two. My dad gave me advice when going to Preston; he told me it would be better to go to a small club, prove myself and gain a professional contract – which I did at 17 – then the opportunity to go to a big club later on would follow. So it proved. But if you think an initial £600,000 for Garbutt is expensive, consider this: when Joe Cole was a schoolboy at West Ham, we tried to sign him for Everton – but were quoted £1m, a price that we simply couldn’t match. You are, after all, taking a chance when you sign someone that young but I think what is going to happen to Chelsea will act as a warning to shot to every club; I can see the transfer ban being reduced but they will receive a hefty punishment.
Howard Kendall: Everton FC must build on Wigan win against Fulham
Sep 11 2009 Liverpool Echo
IT’S back to Premier League business on Sunday and Fulham will undoubtedly pose a big threat to Everton’s ambitions. Roy Hodgson has done a magnificent job getting them into Europe but our win over Wigan before the shutdown has made a tremendous difference to the mood. We always used to say at the start of every season that it was imperative to get that first home win under your belt, then follow it up on your travels. I’m sure David Moyes will be thinking that way, too, and I’m quietly confident that the next few weeks will see the Blues click into gear.
They will need to be up for it at Craven Cottage, though, as Roy will have Fulham well organised; he’s had some very good jobs and has lot of experience.
But looking at our next four games, you can see we have a great opportunity to progress. With the greatest respect to Fulham, Blackburn, Stoke and Wolves, we’ve got to be looking to take these chances when they come up and it will be interesting to see what happens.
Leighton Baines focuses on helping Everton FC improve
Sep 11 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
YOU might think scoring a last-gasp winner to radically change the atmosphere around a football club would be a cue for the hero of the hour to feel unbridled joy.
The appeal of the beautiful game, of course, stems from such dramatic moments and few would dispute that Leighton Baines was the main protagonist in the theatre that unfolded in Everton’s most recent Premier League game. His 92nd minute penalty against Wigan Athletic – thrashed straight and true into the roof of the Park End net with one assured swing of his left boot – enabled the Blues to finally get some points on the board and enjoy a first victory of a stuttering campaign. Some players, of course, would milk the moment, letting all and sundry know about their grand deeds but Baines, by contrast, is a different character and you would have received a surprise had you seen him in Goodison Park’s tunnel shortly after that magic moment.
Quietly keeping his own counsel, a million and one thoughts clearly galloping through his mind, Baines looked as if he wanted to be anything other than the centre of attention and here’s the reasons why. Though he took some satisfaction from dispatching such a crucial spot-kick, Everton’s left-back was more enraged than enthused, simply because he immediately started to think about the six points that had been squandered in the first two matches. “I was a nightmare to be with for about three days after that,” said Baines, taking up the story. “When you get asked to take a penalty like that, you just go into autopilot, you shut everything off and just do it as if you were in training. “Of course it was great to score, particularly given the way that game had gone. We could have thrown it away moments before, so to go into the international break with three points was great – it would have been unbearable if we’d have lost. “But when I started walking off the pitch, I just felt incredibly down. It was weird, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I couldn’t help but think about the games against Arsenal and Burnley and the points we’d thrown away. “Yes, it was nice to beat Wigan but we can’t get carried away as the league table shows just how far away we are from the standards we set last season and we are working on putting that right.
“It’s a question of keeping going now and I hope that we have got the bad start out of our system, as we have got so many important games coming up; there really is no margin for error.” He makes a valid point; starting on Sunday, Everton have four eminently winnable Premier League games before the next international break, a Carling Cup tie at Hull City and two Europa League matches against AEK Athens and Bate Borisov. Should they manage negotiate that sequence without blemish, the shape of the campaign would take a very different course and there is a confidence in the squad, as they are never better than when having a hectic schedule to contend with.
“It’s been so hard to find a rhythm in the opening weeks and it was a Godsend in many ways that we had the two Europa League matches (against SK Sigma Olomouc) to help us find a little bit of form.
“We’ve got to hope now that we can make strides in the next few weeks; the season has been bitty so far but we are looking forward to getting into the rhythm of last year and putting some good results together. “It’s still early days and there is nothing to get too worried about, as when the squad is back at full strength we’ll be fine. But, at the same time, we can’t let some of the clubs who we want to be fighting with come the end of the season get too far away.” In the most recent campaign, Fulham tried to peg the Blues back but were ultimately put in their place and the gulf between the two sides was highlighted at Craven Cottage when two Leon Osman goals allowed David Moyes’ squad to end league affairs on a high. Fulham, however, are a side that will definitely win more matches than they lose between now and next May and given Everton’s lamentable record on the banks of the River Thames, nobody is taking for granted. “It’s amazing what they have done down there and Roy Hodgson has been a massive success,” Baines pointed out. “You are guaranteed a good match at Craven Cottage and it is a stadium I enjoy going to. “The pitch is good, so is the atmosphere and hopefully Ossie helped us bury a hoodoo with his goals on the final day. We’ve got to be going down there to build on the win against Wigan, otherwise the penalty and all that will have been meaningless.” It is refreshing to hear a player speak so eloquently and candidly and it is surely just as heartening for Evertonians to discover that nobody in the squad is really happy with their form – Baines included. He, remember, was being touted as a contender for England’s World Cup squad six months ago but the fact he was overlooked for the qualifier with Croatia shows there is much to be done to please Fabio Capello. “Was I disappointed not to be involved? I haven’t got any right to think in such a way given how I’m playing at the minute,” said Baines, who is now firmly established as Everton’s first choice left-back.
“My performances haven’t been good enough to warrant inclusion in an England squad. I can’t be happy at the minute and I don’t think we can be happy collectively, either. Hopefully, though, a change will be just around the corner.”
Everton FC's Joseph Yobo believes season is set for lift off
Sept 11 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
JOSEPH YOBO is predicting that Everton’s season is set for take off now that David Moyes has fitted the pieces of his squad jigsaw into place.
With the exception of long-term absentees Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka, the Blues are set to travel to Fulham on Sunday with a near full strength squad.
The travelling party will include new signings John Heitinga, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and, of course, Sylvain Distin – Yobo’s new partner in the centre of Everton’s defence. They showed signs of building a good understanding straight away in the 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic and Yobo is adamant that their alliance will get better in time. Those are sentiments which can also be applied to the team and Yobo can see no better place than Craven Cottage for the Blues to start making ground. “It’s hard to lose important squad members but it’s worse when it is players who were important,” said Yobo, referring to the £24m sale of Joleon Lescott to Manchester City.
“But that’s football, you have to move on sometimes and hopefully we’ll keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll improve as a team. “The Wigan game was massive for us and we were able to put things right after losing to Arsenal and Burnley but we know we have got to keep it going.” Moyes is likely to have a number of selection dilemmas to wrestle with, not least the one regarding whether he starts with Tim Cahill or Marouane Fellaini. Cahill’s claims are possibly the strongest, as he was one of Everton’s better performers against Wigan and has spent the last two weeks training at Finch Farm. “It’s a massive game,” he said. “It’s great to have a win under our belts and to move forward. We’re starting to play with a bit of fluidity and the team is looking good.”
Mikel Arteta injury setback puts Everton FC midfielder out until Christmas
Sept 12 2009 By Dominic King Liverpool Echo
EVERTON have been handed a devastating blow with the news that Mikel Arteta has suffered a setback which could keep him out until Christmas. The Blues’ midfield talisman underwent an operation in Spain on Tuesday to correct a cartilage problem in lift knee, which he damaged so severely at Newcastle in February. Arteta had been working overtime in his bid to recover from rupturing his cruciate ligament and was on the verge of a return but now all plans have been put on hold. Not surprisingly, Arteta – who has remained in Spain since undergoing the procedure – has been left heartbroken by this desperate turn of events. David Moyes is equally distraught at the prospect of being without the little Spaniard for a minimum of six weeks and is praying that Arteta will come back better than ever. “Mikel has had another operation which will keep him out for at least another six weeks,” said Moyes. “He just slipped in training and they have tidied up his cartilage. “He obviously had his cruciate done already and he would probably have been due to join back in training with the lads this week. “It’s the same knee, when you do your cruciate you normally do your meniscus a little bit, too. The doctors stitch it back up and in the past they used to take the stitches out. “But they don’t do that now. What has happened is one of the stitches that is holding the meniscus of the cartilage together has pulled apart. “He’s been in to get that repaired. It goes without saying that it is a terrible blow. He will be upset but I’ve not spoken to him since he had the operation on Tuesday.” This news is all the more frustrating for Moyes, as for the first time in many months he has practically a full strength squad for tomorrow’s trip to Fulham. Ayegbeni Yakubu is looking sharper in training and will travel, while Victor Anichebe is poised to play for the reserves when they tackle Hull City on Monday evening. Phil Jagielka is also making good progress and that ensured there was a real buzz about training at Finch Farm yesterday, particularly as all three new signings were on board. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin are all likely to figure at some point at Craven Cottage and Moyes is now looking forward to the season taking shape.
“I’m going to do everything I can now to build and make a team out of what we have got and try to compete at the top end,” Moyes promised. “I feel my work as a coach now starts and my work as a buyer and seller is now over. I need to get on to the training field and work with the players. “I want to mould them into a team that can have good runs in the cups and in the league. There has been a lift in atmosphere and a lift in the quality of training. “That's because the players have seen new players come in and there’s a competition for places. We’d have liked that if we could have in June or July but it wasn’t to be. “Our summer wasn’t planned that way. It was disappointing as if I’d what I’ve had in training (yesterday) six weeks ago I'd have been ecstatic. But we’ve got on with it now.”
Everton FC defender John Heitinga eager for Premiership test
Sep 12 2009 Liverpool Echo
JOHN HEITINGA was, up until ten days ago, living in one of Europe’s glitziest cities and playing Champions League football for one of the game’s most famous names.
When you considered that for a moment, it is clear that they are ingredients you would not give up lightly, so it is no surprise that the Dutchman has found himself being asked regularly this week and last: why have you swopped Atletico Madrid for Everton? Given that Everton do not have the fiscal power to pay the kind of wages that some of their wealthier rivals are able to, this switch is clearly not money driven, while Liverpool does not enjoy a climate like the one in the Spanish capital.
But those thinking that there must be an ulterior motive behind Heitinga’s deadline day transfer can rest easy. As he was presented to the media yesterday afternoon, it was clear to see that the opportunity to play for a progressive club was his only motivation. Though he is unlikely to be handed an immediate start at Fulham tomorrow – Heitinga only trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday – he is rubbing his hands at the thought of what the next five years might hold.
He is also thrilled that he has left behind the referees who caused him nightmares during his 14-month stay at Vincente Calderon due to their persistent name-taking tendencies; as someone who ‘loves to tackle’ they became the bane of Heitinga’s professional life. “This is one of the strongest competitions in the world,” explained the man who will wear the Blues number five shirt. “Last year I played in La Liga, which is also a strong competition, but the level is higher here and I’m looking forward to testing myself. “A lot of people have asked me why I have left Madrid but the answer is simple – I want to play in the Premier League and have felt like that for a long time. “This club suits me. The Premier League and the type of game here will fit me better than Spain. “The decision was hard to make as I can’t play in Europe, at least until the New Year, but the feeling that I got from Everton was very good and the people who I spoke to about playing here also said good things. “After listening to so many opinions, there was only one conclusion to come to and that was I wanted to play for Everton. I will give everything that I have to help this club win a prize in the near future. “Madrid wanted me to stay. The window was closed in Spain on September 1 but Madrid were still good enough to let me go after I spoke with them and told them I wanted to move, even though they couldn’t get anyone in to replace me.” It is well known that David Moyes does extensive homework when he is considering buying a new player and invariably he seeks countless opinions, but the same is true of Heitinga. When he discovered that Everton were interested in signing him, the 25-year-old spoke with Liverpool pair Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel, consulted the former Blackburn defender Andre Ooijer, not to mention his girlfriend Charlotte’s brother Bolo Zenden. Throw into the equation that he regularly watched Everton in action last season and he is evidently starting this new adventure with his eyes wide open, which is why he is adamant that the rat-a-tat-tat, rough and tumble pace will suit him down to the ground. “I’m a defender who wants to make tackles and every tackle that you make in Spain almost already is a yellow card,” said Heitinga. “Sometimes I felt things were holding me back. You have to watch out all the time. “I played in one game this season, against Malaga (which Atletico lost 3-0) and after three minutes I was booked. It wasn’t even for a tackle. I just tried to speak to the referee, I didn’t say anything wrong but I still got booked. I was not so happy with that! “I don’t think I was being targeted or anything like that. It’s just that the referees have to listen to other people higher up and it seems that they have to give cards quicker than they did in Holland. At least here I can play my normal game. “A lot of Dutch players prefer to play in England. What makes things so special are the fans. The stadiums are always full, the crowd support you 90 minutes long and if you fight and show your best, they will get behind you “Why do we adapt so quickly? Well, it’s only 45 minutes from Amsterdam by plane! No, seriously, I don’t know. We just try our best. I’m focused on the challenge ahead and I know that I will have to play well to get my position.”
Marouane Fellaini, of course, arrived here 12 months ago lamenting the fact that Belgian officials had made life intolerable for him but there is no such griping from Heitinga. If anything, he found the Spanish referees exasperatingly humorous.
And, for the record, he was booked nine times last season – so were there any reds?
“Yes there was one – and it was deserved!” he said with a wry smile. “Lionel Messi was going clean through and I decided to give a penalty away otherwise Barcelona would have gone 2-0 up. Unfortunately it backfired and they still ended up scoring.”
Cue much laughter. Life, clearly, is not going to be dull now that this colourful character is on board but, as long as he plays with commitment, it’s fair to say he will be a good deal more successful than Everton’s last Dutchman.
Royal Blue: Tony Hibbert won't make way at Everton FC
Sept 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PREMIER LEAGUE business resumes tomorrow and many will be anticipating that it will be a case of ‘out with the old, in with the new’. Now that John Heitinga is ready to start life as the most the expensive defender in Everton’s history and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has been drafted in to bring flair and creativity to the midfield, it is only natural that people will expect them to be instantly accommodated. Given the positions Heitinga and Bilyaletdinov occupy, many will be expecting Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman – who between them have made 424 appearances since graduating from the club’s Academy – to now be pushed into the shadows. In football, though, it is dangerous to assume anything, particularly so when you are talking about players who have been brought up to know nothing other than to fight, fight, fight for the Royal Blue jersey. Debates over whether Osman and Hibbert can help Everton go forward have taken place ever since the FA Cup final, when they came off worse in their battle respective battles with Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda. Hibbert’s afternoon was ruined almost immediately when he was booked for tangling with Malouda and he toiled in sweltering conditions until David Moyes replaced him at half-time with Lars Jacobsen, now of Blackburn Rovers. The early summer pursuit of Sheffield United’s Kyle Naughton simply added to the feeling that Hibbert – who, do not forget, is Everton’s longest serving player – would not find starts easy to come by in the new campaign. Players, though, are not immune to such talk and Hibbert has been aware from an early stage that people have been asking questions about him – and that is why he is ready to raise his game once again. Having been harshly sent-off in the second leg of the Europa League play-off with SK Sigma Olomouc, some may have expected him to be taken out of the firing line against Wigan Athletic three days later, particularly as Sylvain Distin had been signed. That would have allowed Moyes, if he had so wished, to slot Phil Neville in at right-back and plug the gap in midfield with Marouane Fellaini, Tim Cahill and Jack Rodwell. But the manager kept faith with Hibbert – and was handsomely rewarded. He was one of Everton’s top men in that last-gasp 2-1 win, his afternoon’s work summed up by the galloping run and sumptuous cross late in the second half from which Cahill should really have scored.
It was, without doubt, a statement of intent, one that told Moyes he would not be going down without a fight and he has continued to make a terrific impression in training during the past fortnight. Heitinga might have an exceptional pedigree, having started his career with Ajax and played for Atletico Madrid, but Hibbert is unlikely to be fazed by this latest challenge and the flying Dutchman is unlikely to find he will stroll into the starting line-up. “The challenge is the same every year,” Hibbert pointed out when the Blues where on their tour of the US and Canada. “When you play for Everton, you have got to show you deserve to be in the team and you have got to fight all the time to keep your marks up. “The gaffer was spot on to look at another right-back; that is always going to happen because if you want to be successful now, you need two players for every position and it’s good to see that Everton are being linked with these outstanding young players. “It will help the club and when someone good comes in, it helps you as well. I love the club, I’ve been here all my life and whoever gets brought in is only going to help us out, so why would I complain?”
There is little doubt that Heitinga will show himself to be a smart acquisition but anyone predicting it will trigger the demise of Tony Hibbert might just be advised to reconsider for a moment. He, after all, has no intentions of becoming yesterday’s man.
Royal Blue: Duncan McKenzie still making us smile in new book
Sept 12 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DUNCAN McKENZIE was a player who enjoyed putting a smile on people’s faces during his playing career – and that is something he will continue to do now he has written a book. His tome, titled The Last Fancy Dan, is crammed full of amusing anecdotes from how he rose through the ranks at Nottingham Forest all the way through to when the last days of his career were played out in Tulsa and Chicago.
Crammed somewhere in between, of course, is an enlightening chapter about his spell with Everton and though he became something of a footballing nomad, there is little doubt about the esteem in which he holds the Blues. “When I arrived at Everton in December 1977, I finally found my spiritual home,” he writes. “The beauty of playing on Merseyside, whether a Liverpool or Everton player, was that after playing there was no animosity – Scousers, for me, are the most charitable people in Britain.”
It is a genuinely entertaining read and anyone wishing to have a copy signed should head down to Waterstone’s on Bold Street today, as Duncan will be in the store from 1pm to launch the book.
Barry Horne: Great game in Cardiff, but no Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
Sep 12 2009 Liverpool Echo
I WAS in Cardiff in midweek, where I saw one of the best international matches I’ve seen in a long time. Of the three players I had hoped to see, Aaron Ramsey and Andriy Arshavin were excellent, but unfortunately Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was left on the substitutes’ bench. But I am sure the Russian will give the squad a significant boost ahead of tomorrow’s match.
Barry Horne: Everton FC will gain reward at Fulham on Sunday
DESPITE Everton’s historically poor results at Craven Cottage, I am confident that Sunday’s game will see us return from the capital with some reward.
There is no doubt that individuals do have happy hunting grounds – and that is perfectly logical. A player will have a much better chance of playing well if he feels confident about himself. And a player will feel more confident about himself if he is running out a ground where he has performed well previously. It’s simple psychology.
But I’m afraid the same simply can’t be said about a team. When pundits point out a particular team’s long losing streak at a particular stadium, that stadium is usually somewhere formidable like Old Trafford or Anfield. Everton’s long run of poor form at Fulham can be put down as a statistical blip, the three decades when Everton didn’t go to Craven Cottage – and the law of the exs!
There was a period when a series of ex-Everton players revelled in getting one over their old club – Brian McBride, Tomasz Radzinski, Simon Davies and Mark Pembridge, but with Andy Johnson currently injured that’s no longer the case.
Fulham enjoyed an excellent season last time out, but have started this season shakily.
They were convincingly beaten last time out by Aston Villa – and the arrival of the new faces into the Everton squad will have given an extra lift after the Wigan win a fortnight ago. And if anyone still believes in jinxes, Leon Osman’s fine double showed that Everton can win at Craven Cottage on the last day of last season.
CRUNCH TIME FOR HEIT-MAN
12th September 2009 The Daily Star
By Chris Harper
EVERTON new boy John Heitinga is looking forward to his first taste of English football – so he can start tackling again. The defender, 25, completed his £6m move from Atletico Madrid on transfer deadline day. Heitinga picked up one red card and nine yellows during his single season in Spain following an £8.8m switch from Ajax.
And he believes his physical approach is best suited to the Premier League.
Heitinga said: “A lot of people have asked me why I turned my back on the Champions League to come here. “It was a hard decision to make because I cannot play in the Europa League for Everton until January. “But I think the type of game I play suits me better here in England. I’m a defender – and a defender who wants to make tackles. “Every tackle you make in Spain, you risk a yellow card. In some games, you feel you can’t tackle. “The first game I played this season against Malaga, I had a yellow card after only three minutes. Then I had another 87 minutes to go.
“I don’t think I’ve been picked on by the referees. “It’s just that in Spain there are more yellow cards than in Holland or England. I think the refs over there get their orders from the top. “Here, I think I can play my normal game. The Premier League suits me better .” The defender could make his debut at Fulham tomorrow along with Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, a £10.7m buy from Lokomotiv Moscow. Boss David Moyes said: “Probably because of our numbers, I see John playing at the back. “I have an inkling he can play in front of the back four. We will find out what he can do best for us. “We may need him more at centre-half and full-back in the coming weeks, but when Phil Jagielka comes back we might use him more in midfield. He gives us versatility. “John’s not a giant but Phil Jagielka and Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal are not giants either. “He can play centre-back and, other than Sylvain Distin and Joseph Yobo, we don’t have anybody available who can be considered a centre-back at the moment.” The money Everton received from Manchester City for Joleon Lescott virtually paid for Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov and Distin. Moyes said: “I feel my work as a coach starts now and my work as a buyer and seller is now over .” Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta is facing another six weeks out after suffering a setback in his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Fulham FC 2 Everton FC 1: Tim Cahill goal not enough for Blues
Sep 13 2009
Damien Duff celebrates his goal
EVERTON suffered their third defeat of the season after Damien Duff produced a moment of magic at Craven Cottage. The Blues looked comfortable at half-time when they led through Tim Cahill’s header and dominated every area of the pitch, but Paul Konchesky’s deflected equaliser gave the home team momentum. Republic of Ireland winger Duff beat Tim Howard with a powerful drive before the end for his first Fulham goal, giving them their first victory since the opening weekend of the season.
Duff’s contribution meant an exciting finale but it was a game short on action before that. For the home team, the Republic of Ireland winger tried his luck from long range early on but Howard did not have to move to make the save, then Clint Dempsey went wide with a drive from a similar distance. David Stockdale, the 23-year-old former York and Darlington goalkeeper, was making his debut and was called into action on the quarter-of-an-hour mark when Jack Rodwell’s drive deflected off Aaron Hughes, with the rookie using his knees to block and his team-mates clearing the rebound.
Fulham midfielder Dempsey had a couple of efforts that did not trouble Howard - then the hosts fell behind in the 33rd minute through the familiar sight of a headed goal by Cahill. Since arriving from Millwall, Cahill has now scored 38 goals for Everton - and exactly half of them have been with his head. Danny Murphy was booked for a foul in the build-up, with Leighton Baines swinging over the free-kick and Cahill jumping above Dickson Etuhu to head past Stockdale, although he should have been flagged for offside. It was the Australia midfielder’s first strike of the season and he celebrated with his trademark boxing routine at the corner flag. Leon Osman almost grabbed a second before the interval when he trapped Steven Pienaar’s pass and went through on goal - but Hughes was back to make a last-ditch tackle. Howard had gone untroubled for 45 minutes despite Fulham’s frontline strikers returning from the sidelines.
Andrew Johnson came back from his collarbone injury to face his former club. Bobby Zamora partnered him in attack after coming back from an Achilles complaint - but the lack of understanding between the pair was illustrated by a comedy kick-off routine that gifted the ball to Everton. That would all change in the second half. Johnson forced Howard into a save just after the restart following a sharp turn on the edge of the area, then Etuhu headed wide from Murphy’s free-kick.
The fortuitous equaliser came in the 57th minute when Murphy’s free-kick was blocked by the defensive wall. It rebounded to Konchesky, whose powerful drive deflected in off Sylvain Distin. Phil Neville had brought down Etuhu for the free-kick leading up to the goal, then six minutes after the goal Etuhu caught the Everton skipper badly just below the left knee. John Heitinga came on for his debut as a replacement. Duff’s moment, his first goal since arriving from Newcastle, came 11 minutes from full-time. Zamora headed on a long ball and Johnson tapped out wide to Duff. The Irishman made tracks towards the penalty area, cut inside Baines and unleashed a powerful drive past Howard. Stockdale saved a Marouane Fellaini header from point-blank range and Murphy cleared Joseph Yobo’s follow-up shot off the line. Hughes was also forced into a last-ditch tackle on Aiyegbeni Yakubu as Fulham held on.
BATTLE'S ON FOR JAMES
13th September 2009 Daily Star
EVERTON striker James Vaughan is wanted by North East clubs Newcastle and Middlesbrough on loan to help them straight back to the Premier League.
Vaughan, 21, proved his fitness after injury in apractice match at Everton’s Finch Farm training centre on Thursday. England Under-21international Vaughan holds the distinction of being the Premier League’s youngest-ever scorer when he was 16.
DISTIN IS NOT HAPPY TO BE SITTING PRETTY
13th September 2009 Daily Star
By Steve Millar
SYLVAIN DISTIN has revealed that he joined Everton because he doesn’t want to be a bit-part player. He was linked with moves to Liverpool or Manchester City in the summer but decided on Goodison as he had more chance of first-team football.
Although Liverpool could offer Champions League ties, with a tilt at the title, and City could triple his Pompey wages, Distin was never tempted. Sunderland and Aston Villa were desperate for his services, too, but they were never in the running either when Everton came calling last month. Distin said: “Yes, I read about City in the newspapers. But when I saw the kind of player they were getting, if they were signing me to be on the bench, well, that’s not my cup of tea. Liverpool were mentioned, too, but that would have been the same. If it’s to be a squad player, no. I want to enjoy my football. “I didn’t leave my country, my family, my friends and work hard every day to be on the bench. If you are on the bench because you are not good enough, then fine. “If they say from the beginning you are going to be on the bench and you are going to play, to rest other players, and play just ten or 15 games when I’m used to 35, then it’s no again. “If I miss one game in a season I feel robbed. So that wasn’t for me. I had a few possibilities, three or four clubs in the Premier League, but for me Everton was the best.” Fulham boss Roy Hodgson says Distin will more than compensate Everton manager David Moyes for the £22m departure of Joleon Lescott to Man City. Hodgson said: “I have a lot of sympathy for David. He was anxious to keep hold of Joleon. “He moved very quickly when the transfer was finalised and has brought in at least two really good quality players in
Johnny Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. “He has been able to spend some money and been able to improve his squad. “He obviously feels he has the centre-backs to cover for him."
Stuttering Everton FC playing catch up after Fulham loss
Sep 14 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
NORMAL service was resumed at Craven Cottage yesterday, but not in the manner Everton would have wanted. The momentum gathered from their last-gasp victory over Wigan Athletic a fortnight ago came shuddering to a halt in all-too-familiar circumstances. Everyone knows the league is a marathon and not a sprint. But having lost three of their first four games, the Goodison outfit are in danger of allowing their rivals for a top-five place move out of sight after barely breaking into stride.
Everton’s victory on the final day of last season was their first in these parts since August 1966. However, it was back to the same old story yesterday.
And they have only themselves to blame after somehow letting a lead slip through fingers and give Fulham the opportunity to land a further morale-sapping blow to their fledgling campaign. That skipper Phil Neville departed in agony on a stretcher midway through the second half encapsulated a deeply disappointing afternoon.
And although a subsequently encouraging medical bulletin will have at least lifted some of the gloom, the sight of only crisis-riddled Portsmouth beneath Everton in the embryonic standings does not augur well. Once again, late business in the summer transfer window – for whatever reason – has left the Goodison outfit playing catch-up, both in terms of preparation and points. Replacing the stricken Neville wasn’t the way in which John Heitinga would have wanted to make his debut following his deadline-day arrival from Atletico Madrid.But at least the Dutchman’s introduction demonstrated the greater resources Moyes finally has at his disposal, having bemoaned the lack of genuine options from the bench during the opening weeks.
Indeed, with Yakubu and Marouane Fellaini joining new boys Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, more than £43million worth of talent sat in the Craven Cottage dugout – surely the most expensively-assembled bench in Everton’s history. It will make it easier for Moyes to shake up his first team, as he must after an encouraging first-half display yesterday was followed by a depressingly below-par second. Fast-tracking new signings is not the manager’s way, but it may become a necessity. The defence, which has yet to keep a clean sheet since the warm-up programme began in July, remains worryingly porous, although in mitigation nothing could have been done about Paul Konchesky’s deflected equaliser. Everton overcame a similarly poor start last season, but the shifting Premier League landscape means it will be more difficult than ever to replicate that effort. Goalscorer Tim Cahill and the hard-working Jack Rodwell aside, few players did themselves justice yesterday, particularly after the interval. Too many are still struggling to rediscover their form, as typified by the current fortunes of Marouane Fellaini. Despite his impressive cameo against Wigan, the Belgian was again restricted to a late appearance yesterday as a replacement for the ineffective Jo – the on-loan striker handed a start with Louis Saha hamstrung – and the way in which he stormed off the field at full-time indicated a deep-rooted frustration at his recent performances. Thankfully, Everton can still rely on the set-piece danger of Cahill, and it was that prowess that allowed him to leap above Dickson Etuhu in the 33rd-minute to head in a precise Leighton Baines delivery from the left after Steven Pienaar had been hauled down by Danny Murphy. The opposition is well aware of what is coming but, like so many defences before them, Fulham found it impossible to negate, although they could well argue Cahill was in an offside position when the free-kick was taken. It gave Everton a deserved half-time lead, with the visitors having spurned an early opportunity to forge ahead in the 15th minute when, after debutant Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale had spilled a speculative Jack Rodwell strike, Leon Osman, Cahill and then Pienaar all saw shots blocked by some desperate Fulham lunges. Further good defending from Aaron Hughes nicked the ball off the toes of the incoming Osman as he latched on to a perceptive Pienaar pass. Clint Dempsey offered Fulham’s only real threat during the opening half, twice wide with headers and similarly off target with a 20-yard shot following a forceful run.
Damien Duff ballooned an inviting opportunity to equalise shortly after the interval as Fulham restarted with much more purpose, but it required a huge slice of luck to draw them level on 57 minutes. After John Pantsil went to ground on the edge of the area under the slightest of challenges from Neville, Murphy drove the free-kick into the Everton wall. But the rebound dropped invitingly for Konchesky, whose 20-yard shot deflected off the heels of the unlucky Distin into the goal with Howard wrong-footed.
Games between these two teams have been curiously feisty in recent times, and this was another full-blooded encounter that on occasion threatened to boil over due to the lenient officiating of referee Peter Walton. But that unflinching commitment led to Neville’s exit in the 62nd minute, the Everton captain coming off worse after a 50-50 challenge with Etuhu. There was no malicious intent from the Fulham man, but it must be said his studs were showing as he caught Neville on the follow through.
Everton were understandably knocked out of their stride by the injury, but in truth Fulham had already wrested the initiative with a forceful display after half-time.
And Roy Hodgson’s men secured victory 11 minutes from time when Duff, playing on the right, was given the space to cut inside Leighton Baines and lashed a left-footed effort from 20 yards that was always swerving away from Howard’s despairing hand.Everton somehow failed to equalise moments later when a Baines corner prompted a mad scramble inside the Fulham area. Fellaini’s header was saved at point-blank range by Stockdale, Murphy then cleared off the line from Yobo and, with Stockdale seconds later flapping at a cross, the Nigerian blasted wastefully over. But this time there were to be no last-minute heroics. This was Everton’s 1,000th away defeat in the top flight. A notable landmark, but nobody at Goodison will be celebrating this morning.
Fulham 2 Everton FC 1 - Dominic King's verdict
Sept 14, 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is known for being a forward thinking manager but today it is likely he will be taking his inspiration from the past. It is 103 days since Everton marked the most exciting campaign of Moyes’ seven-year reign by contesting the FA Cup final but, as yet, there has been little sign of his re-shaped team making any notable progress. With the transfer window closed and three new signings on board, yesterday’s trip to Fulham was billed as being when the moment when the Blues’ season finally took flight. But, instead, we find ourselves sifting through the wreckage of another defeat. As was the case against Arsenal and Burnley, there can be few complaints here. Everton, after all, were in complete control of affairs, only for defensive malfunctions to cost them dearly – it is not what anyone, least of all the manager, expected. Moyes has grumbled on numerous occasions – sometimes with good reason – that his squad has lacked depth and time may prove that he does not have a bodies to cope with the demands which will be placed upon them this season.
There can be no quibbles now, however, about the pedigree of those players who currently reside at Goodison Park; a look at the substitutes’ bench yesterday, purely in terms of economics, proved that point. It was, more than likely, the most expensively assembled support cast in the club’s history and contained internationals from four different countries, not to mention two extremely promising young players.
The cost? £43.7m, give or take a couple of pennies. For the record, the team with which Moyes started at Craven Cottage was put together for a ‘mere’ £27.7m; that might be a fraction of some of their rivals but it does not mean Everton lack quality.
Spending money, obviously, gives teams a better chance of achieving success but it is not, by any means, the be all and end all. What’s more, the kind of foundations which Moyes has built during his time at the club cannot be bought over night. True, the team he has painstakingly put together has suffered a hotchpotch start to this campaign in terms of results but, given this squad’s ability to keep proving the sceptics wrong, it would take a brave man to bet against them turning things around.
Starting the day with only the unfolding disaster which goes by the name of Portsmouth below them in the fledgling table, this game offered a golden chance for them to click into gear and make up lost ground – after 33 minutes, it all seemed to be going to plan. If Leighton Baines’ free-kick was sumptuously delivered, Tim Cahill’s header was picture perfect and raced into the one part of the goal that debutant keeper David Stockdale was utterly powerless to protect. Given that his career on Merseyside has seen him average a goal roughly every three-and-a-half games. He has now scored 47 times in 171 appearances – the drought Cahill had been on was never likely to prove terminal. As somebody, though, who lives and breathes to wreak havoc in opposition penalty areas, it will, undoubtedly, have come as a relief to find the target, wearing a Blue shirt, in a competitive match for the first time since April 12. At that point, it was hard to envisage anything other than a comfortable win, as the ball started to be moved with purpose and those in Blue appeared to be running a yard quicker than the men bedecked in black and white. But, of course, Craven Cottage is anything but a happy hunting ground for Everton and a dramatic turnaround in the second 45 minutes – coupled with a sickening injury – resulted in Moyes suffering more misery on the banks of the River Thames. Rocked back on their haunches when Paul Konchesky rifled in an equaliser from 25 yards via the aid of a huge deflection off Sylvain Distin – he was afforded far too much space on the edge of the area – things got much, much worse after an hour’s play.
The sight of Phil Neville being taken from the field on a stretcher after Dickson Etuhu had careered into his knee feet first – a challenge which, at the very least, should have warranted referee Peter Walton to draw a yellow card – led Everton to lose their way.
Passes went askew, there was scant creativity in midfield and a defence which had looked to be rediscovering its equilibrium suddenly started making basic mistakes once again and fatally allowed Fulham to seize the initiative Damien Duff administered the killer blow, thumping a left-footed drive past Tim Howard – impressive as the strike was, it beggared belief that Andrew Johnson was allowed to gallop forward without being tackled, while nobody closed down Duff.
A period of frantic, desperate pressing followed but there was no sign of Everton blowing the house down; Marouane Fellaini came on and contributed absolutely nothing, while it was mystifying why Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was never asked to get changed. Many are eagerly awaiting to see what the Russian will add to Everton’s attack and with Fellaini out-of-sorts – summed up by him stomping off at the end without acknowledging the travelling supporters – would Bilyaletdinov not have been a better choice? And what exacerbated the feeling of immense frustration was the fact the Toffees never really tested Stockdale – a bundle of nerves who flapped away at crosses like a flag in gale – to the extent when a mistake would have been almost inevitable. It wasn’t good enough – not by a long way – and the fact Moyes marched across the pitch on the final whistle with his head bowed, scowling to himself, was the clearest indication that he knows all is not well with his squad yet. Four years ago, a similar start, when defeat followed stomach-churning defeat, left Everton’s hopes of building on a fabulous previous season in tatters and some will be fearing that the first chapters of another tale of woe have been penned. Yet those who view the cup as always being half full will cast their mind back 12 months and cling to the belief that it is a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ the tide will turn; but sadly, at this moment in time, to see that argument takes a huge leap of faith.
Knee injury sees Everton FC captain Phil Neville face longest lay-off of his career
Sep 14 2009 By Dominic King
PHIL NEVILLE is set for the longest injury lay-off of his professional career after he received the results of an MRI scan on his damaged knee today. Everton's captain was stretchered off during yesterday's 2-1 defeat at Fulham following a heavy tackle from Dickson Etuhu and his worst fears have been confirmed . He has damaged the posterior ligament in the back of his left knee and, in the worst case scenario, could be out for anything up to four months. The Blues will wait to see how the swelling goes down before deciding whether an operation is required to repair the damage but, at this moment in time, the signs do not look good. Everton physio Mick Rathbone confirmed today: "An MRI scan on Monday morning has confirmed our fears and it has revealed that Phil has damaged ligaments at the back of his knee.
"He will now rest it for 48 hours to allow the swelling to go down and he will then see a specialist in London before a decision is made on how best to manage the injury.
"It is too early to estimate the length of absence but I fear he is certainly facing a lengthy lay-off." Since signing for Everton in August 2005, Neville - who will remain on crutches - has made 184 appearances and has only missed a handful of games either through suspension or minor fitness issues. He has enjoyed good fortune for most of his career in terms of avoiding serious injuries and has not had a prolonged absence since he contracted glandular fever while playing for Manchester United in 1997 and was out for three months. Prior to that, Neville was sidelined for six weeks in 1996 with an ankle problem but now that run has come to an end and it may be after Christmas when he next pulls on a Blue shirt.
Everton FC fear Phil Neville injury, as Joseph Yobo promises team will improve
Sept 14 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON were today keeping their fingers crossed for good news from Phil Neville’s scan results – as Joseph Yobo admitted the Blues had let themselves down at Fulham. Neville was stretchered off during yesterday’s 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage after being on the end of a reckless tackle from Dickson Etuhu and left the ground on crutches. The former England international sustained a badly gashed knee and described himself as being “very, very sore” today and will remain on tenterhooks until this afternoon when he will discover if there is any long term damage.
Neville has been booked in for a precautionary scan in a Cheshire Hospital – to make sure that he has not suffered any bone breaks or ligament damage. But he will definitely miss Everton’s next two games. The incident was undoubtedly the low point of day which had started so brightly when Tim Cahill had headed Everton into a lead. However, they fell apart in the second half – particularly after Neville had gone off – and Yobo says every bit of criticism that came the squad’s way was deserved.
“I thought in the first half we were in total control,” said the Nigerian. “We got a goal and we were doing well but in the second half, we just let loose and lost control.
“We should have done better. We should definitely have taken advantage when we had the lead. I don’t know – maybe we are missing something at the minute.
“It doesn’t matter who plays or who is on the bench. We badly let ourselves down in the second half. We know that should have done better. “They put us under a lot of pressure but we should have been more ruthless but the games are coming thick and fast and we have to put this behind us.” Though this latest defeat has left a bitter taste, Everton do have an immediate chance to put it behind them when they begin their Europa League campaign against AEK Athens. Swiftly following that Goodison clash is another home fixture in the Premier League against Blackburn Rovers and Yobo recognises the need to secure two wins. With Manchester City, Tottenham and Aston Villa all making solid starts, Everton can ill-afford to lose further ground if they wish to be grappling with those clubs next May. “We have got some important games coming up and we have got to get a win,” said Yobo. “But we need to win our next league and get climbing the table. “We have had some bad starts before but we have always ended up picking ourselves up. That’s what we have got to do again. We can’t keep losing games and dropping points.”
Everton FC manager David Moyes unhappy with referee Philip Walton
Sep 14 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES accused referee Peter Walton of missing Dickson Etuhu’s challenge that left Phil Neville with a gash on his knee during the defeat at Fulham. Neville was carried off on a stretcher just after the hour mark in the 2-1 loss at Craven Cottage, with Damien Duff grabbing the winner after Paul Konchesky cancelled out Tim Cahill’s opener. Etuhu appeared to catch Neville with his studs as he followed through on a tackle. “It was a bad miss for the referee to miss that,” Moyes said. “In the football we play now it doesn’t go on and I thought it warranted a free-kick and a yellow card. “Phil has got a gash on his knee but he is not going to hospital. We will assess it later.” After working with Etuhu at Preston, Moyes feels the midfielder would not deliberately injure an opponent. “I know Dickson quite well and I don’t think he’s that type of player,” the Scot added. “But I thought he was late getting there.” Fulham boss Roy Hodgson added: “I’m convinced there was no intent on Dickson’s part. From what I understand it was the follow-through that caught Phil.
“It would be very disappointing if Dickson was accused of that because it was the ultimate 50-50 ball. We’re really, really sorry it happened and wish Phil all the best.”
Hodgson’s men are up to 10th in the Premier League despite going into half-time a goal down, with Everton looking good value for their lead. Cahill, despite looking offside, headed the opener from Leighton Baines’ free-kick. “We were better in the first half without being at our best,” Moyes said. “But we’re trying to integrate players and build confidence. Fulham upped the tempo in the second half and we didn’t match them.” Moyes was not helped by a hamstring injury to Louis Saha, while Aiyegbeni Yakubu still looked short of full fitness when he made a late appearance.
Everton remain in the bottom three but Fulham boss Hodgson is refusing to read too much into the table after his side’s second league win of the season. “I really don’t think league tables should be considered until 10 or 12 games into the season,” he said. “It adds to the pressure and excitement but after four games it’s too early. “We’re all human and get caught up in it and it does affect you. I’ve been preaching to the players that it’s about where we are after 38 games, I’ve also been preaching to them that we have quality in our squad.” Duff’s moment of magic came 11 minutes from full-time when he cut inside Baines and unleashed a drive beyond Tim Howard.
“It was a wonderful goal and he played well throughout the game,” Hodgson said.
“His crossing was good and it was nice to cap his second home game with a goal. It’s important when you move clubs to show the fans immediately what you can do.”
Everton FC players Phil Jagielka and Tony Hibbert backs the ECHO’s Save Our Burns Units campaign
Sep 14 2009 by Liza Williams, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON players have put their weight behind the ECHO’s campaign to safeguard Merseyside burns care. Defenders Phil Jagielka and Tony Hibbert have come on board to help community campaigners and the ECHO prevent units at Whiston and Alder Hey being downgraded. Both were left off a shortlist to become “supra” centres, meaning severely burnt patients in Merseyside would have to travel to Manchester for treatment. Community campaigner Dave Williams said: “We would like to thank the players for getting behind us. “We are going to carry on until the end and until we stop the plans. “The public have been fantastic and so many people are on our side.”
Health bosses in favour of the move say only 12 people a year in Merseyside will be affected and that neither unit will be downgraded. But campaigners, doctors, union leaders and MPs believe both units will suffer, as funds and expertise are drained away. The campaign has already won the support of councillors, MPs and patients’ groups.
MAD MOYES IS ALL ET UP
14th September 2009 Daily Star
By Paul Brown
Fulham 2 Everton 1
David Moyes slammed referee Peter Walton for missing an X-rated tackle by Dickson Etuhu which left Phil Neville writhing in agony. Everton skipper Neville was carried off with a deep gash in his knee after Etuhu went in high with his studs raised in the 63rd minute. But the Fulham midfielder escaped punishment as his team came from behind to earn their first home points of the season. Everton boss Moyes said: “Phil’s got a gash in his knee. We think it’s okay but we’ll assess it later. I know Dickson well, I don’t think he’s that sort of player. “I thought it merited a free kick at least, maybe even a booking. It was a bad miss for the referee to miss that.”
Fulham boss Roy Hodgson also defended his player, saying: “I thought it was a real 50-50 challenge. I’m absolutely convinced there was no intent on Dickson or Phil’s part to hit the other player. We wish Phil all the best and we’re really sorry it happened.” Tim Cahill gave Everton the lead with his first goal of the season but Paul Konchesky hit a heavily-deflected equaliser. Damien Duff’s first goal for Fulham gave the home side a victory which took them out of the bottom three and all the way up to 10th. Hodgson said: “It does affect you when you’re in the bottom three and pundits say you will have another bad season. “But I think we have enough quality in our team not to worry about that. It was strong of us to come back today.”
Everton were without top scorer Louis Saha, who has a hamstring injury, and defeat left them mired in the bottom three. There was more bad news for Everton last night with key man Mikel Arteta ruled out for another six weeks after suffering a setback to his recovery from a knee injury. Fulham started poorly after back-to-back defeats against Chelsea and Aston Villa, with Clint Dempsey twice wasting first-half headers.
But it was a clumsy foul by Danny Murphy which proved their early undoing. He flattened Steven Pienaar to concede a needless free kick. Cahill, who looked offside as Leighton Baines swung in the dead ball, sneaked between Brede Hangeland and Etuhu to head home at the near post. It was his first goal since April. But it was classic Cahill. In the last five years, 19 of his 38 Premier League goals have been headers. Goals have been as rare as snowflakes in the desert for the Cottagers this season. And when Bobby Zamora is your top scorer, you know you’re in trouble.
So home fans were breathing a sigh of relief when Konchesky popped up with a 57th-minute equaliser. Neville fouled him on the edge of the box and when Murphy’s free kick struck the wall, the full back was on the spot for a first-time shot.
It was only Fulham’s second league goal this season, and it needed a huge deflection off Sylvain Distin to beat Tim Howard. When Duff fired Fulham in front with 12 minutes left it looked a long way back for the Merseysiders. The Irishman, a £4m signing from Newcastle, cut inside Baines and unleashed a dipping 20-yard shot which flew past Howard into the far corner. Everton nearly levelled seconds later when Baines swung in a corner and debut keeper David Stockdale could only parry a header from sub Marouane Fellaini. The rebound fell kindly for Joseph Yobo, but his snapshot was hooked off the line by Murphy.
NEVILLE FACES SPELL OUT
14th September 2009 Daily Star
By Mauro Galluzzo for Dailystar.co.uk
EVERTON captain Phil Neville damaged knee ligaments in yesterday’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham and could face a “lengthy lay-off”, the club have confirmed on their website.
Neville was stretchered from the field and club physiotherapist Mick Rathbone confirmed that the player could now be out for some time. Rathbone told www.evertonfc.com: “An MRI scan on Monday morning has confirmed our fears and it has revealed that Phil has damaged ligaments at the back of his knee. “He will now rest it for 48 hours to allow the swelling to go down and he will then see a specialist in London before a decision is made on how best to manage the injury.” Neville sustained the injury following a second-half challenge with Fulham’s Dickson Etuhu, which Everton manager David Moyes was unhappy with. Neville’s absence means the Toffees have problems at right-back for the visit of AEK Athens on Thursday, with new signing John Heitinga ineligible and Tony Hibbert suspended after being sent off in the second leg against Sigma Olomouc. Rathbone added: “It’s too early to estimate length of absence but I fear he is certainly facing a lengthy lay-off."
Everton FC’s Phil Jagielka backs team-mates to rally around injured skipper Phil Neville
Sept 15 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
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PHIL JAGIELKA today promised that Everton’s dressing room will rally around Phil Neville to help him back on the road to full fitness. The Blues stricken skipper will see a specialist tomorrow in Manchester to fully determine how badly the posterior ligament in his left knee has been injured. Neville underwent a scan yesterday in a Cheshire hospital after being carried off during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Fulham and the initial signs are that he is facing lengthy spell out. Should the worst case scenario unfold, Neville will require an operation to repair the damage and that will rule him out for anything up to four months. It is certainly the worst injury that Neville has sustained during his career but Jagielka – who is also in the middle of a rehabilitation programme – says he won’t lack for support. “It goes without saying that we were all gutted to see ‘Phizzer’ carried off and, as our captain, he will be missed just as much off the pitch as he will be on it,” said Jagielka, who is on schedule to return to full training at the end of next month. “He’s a big influence around the place and I’ve got a pretty good idea of how bad he’ll be feeling at the minute – it’s not something you ever want to experience as a footballer. But we are a tight bunch here and when he gets the go ahead to starting doing his rehab, there will be plenty of people who will give him encouragement or supportive words. “Hopefully it won’t be too long before he is back playing again; he is an experienced lad and he is also very positive, so that is going to help him deal with this setback.” If the tear in the ligament only proves to be a small and there is no need for surgery, the 32-year-old could be back within eight weeks. Since he joined Everton in August 2005, Neville has missed more games through suspension than he has done with injury and the last significant amount of time out he experienced was when contracting glandular fever in 1997. His absence on Thursday night is likely to mean that Dan Gosling will slot in at right-back against AEK Athens, given that Tony Hibbert is suspended and John Heitinga is ineligible.
NIGEL MARTYN: Everton FC face massive challenge to recover from sloppy start
Sep 15 2009 Liverpool Echo
FOOTBALL has changed dramatically down the years – especially so when you consider how victories and defeats now tend to be perceived. Should a team win one game, suddenly predictions will be made that great things will beckon for them but lose in unexpected circumstances and those on the receiving end inevitably find themselves being written off – that’s just the way it is. Look at our neighbours from across the park; Liverpool only lost twice in the whole of last season but the fact they have been turned over the same amount of times already has left a number of judges proclaiming that they can’t win the title. That, of course, is nonsense – a more accurate synopsis is that Liverpool are now walking a fine line and must beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United if they are to flourish. Not surprisingly, given the events we saw unfold at Craven Cottage on Sunday, Everton are being written off and certain critics are only to happy to suggest our time as a top five club is all but over.
Again, it is ridiculous to make such declarations at this early stage – remember there are still a maximum of 102 points to play for – but there is no disputing the Blues are facing a mammoth task to repeat their efforts in the league of the last two years.
Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa have all made fine starts to the campaign and our hopes of pegging them back have been lengthened following Sunday’s frustrating result at Craven Cottage. It was such a disappointing day – made worse by the serious injury Phil Neville has sustained – but one that could so easily have been avoided. We were in cruise control in the first half and while it wasn’t a game for the purists, it suited us down to the ground – it had all the hallmarks of another Everton away day win. So what worried me most of all was the way we folded in the second half and seemed prepared to accept that Fulham would inevitably fightback; when they scored their first goal, we looked as if we were feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s not what you expect from an Everton side and now we must hope that the lads will find a suitable response in the coming weeks. Quite simply, you see, we can’t afford any more unnecessary setbacks.
Vital for Everton FC to get Europa League campaign off to a winning start
EUROPE returns to the agenda this week and it is absolutely vital David Moyes’ men get a result against AEK Athens. The Europa League will never have the glamour or the finance of the Champions League but it is still a terrific competition to be involved in and the group we are playing in offers a good chance to progress. Should we win our three home games, I’d say that would practically put us in the round of 32 but, of course, that is easier said than done. AEK will undoubtedly come over here determined to prove a point and they will be looking to take advantage of any frailties in our make up at this present time. But we can’t afford to entertain such fears and a good victory would set us for the battle with Blackburn Rovers next Sunday.
Most importantly of all, though, it would enhance our prospects of progressing – once you’ve played in Europe, you never want to let it go.
James Vaughan back for Everton FC reserves
Sep 15 2009 Liverpool Echo
James Vaughan 250
JAMES VAUGHAN eased fears about his fitness with a 90 minute run-out for Everton reserves last night. But the young striker couldn’t help his side from sliding to a 2-0 defeat against a strong Hull team. The Tigers included new signing Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink – just 48 hours after making his first team debut against Sunderland – and the experienced duo of George Boateng and Bernard Mendy in their line-up. But Vaughan was named in the Blues starting line-up after pulling out of the England under-21 squad last week with a knee injury. With the Blues facing a busy fixture schedule over the next few weeks, and manager David Moyes’ options severely limited by injuries, Vaughan was aiming to impress David Moyes.
But it was The Tigers who had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock just four minutes into the game. The effort was denied by an excellent save from Blues keeper Iain Turner. Everton actually had the ball in the net first, an excellent run from James Wallace through midfield setting up Kieran Agard to tap home just 16 minutes in, only for the young striker to be whistled offside. The young forward had the best chance for Everton in the first period as he narrowly struck a shot wide of the post midway through the half, but the match remained goalless at the break.
Just seconds after the interval first-team regular Boateng found space to fire a long range drive into the top corner, stunning goalkeeper Turner to put the Tigers ahead.
Vaughan fought hard to find an equaliser, and was handed a perfect opportunity just three minutes later as Jose Baxter sent an accurate cross into the box. The striker met the effort with his head from six yards out but couldn't beat the keeper. Hull went close to doubling their advantage as defender Mendy forced another fine save from Turner on 53 minutes. And posing a constant threat on goal, the hosts were rewarded for their persistence on the hour as Ryan Kendall slotted home after Turner's initial stop. Despite their efforts, Everton’s second-string were unable to recover from the deficit and departed Humberside on the wrong end of a 2-0 reverse.
EVERTON: Turner, Nsiala, Bidwell, Wallace, Mustafi, Duffy, Baxter, Akpan, Vaughan, Agard, Forshaw. Substitutes: Roberts, Codling, McCarten, Arnoux, Peterlin.
Phil Jagielka can book World Cup place says Everton FC manager David Moyes
Sept 15 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
PHIL JAGIELKA has an added incentive to reclaim his form and fitness at Everton this season . . . a seat on the plane to South Africa next summer for England’s World Cup campaign. The Blues defender had just forced his way into Fabio Capello’s England thinking when he suffered an appalling cruciate knee ligament injury.
Jagielka had been handed his third full cap against Ukraine, then three weeks later fell victim to the Blues injury curse. But manager David Moyes is backing the centre-back to not only force his way back into the Everton first team before Christmas, but also reclaim his place in the international set up. “He’s on schedule, and with a bit of luck he will be back in a couple of months,” said Moyes. “I can see Jags being one of the ones who makes a late run to get in the squad. He was in it before the injury.
“He was as good as any centre-half in the country at the end of last season – so I’m sure if he can get back fit and playing, then he’ll be one who is talked about near the end of this season. “Jagielka is doing wellbut with injuries like his you can never really tell. “Joe Cole had a similar cruciate problem at Chelsea but he suffered a setback, so we will have to wait and see.”
John Paul Kissock reveals his agony at Everton FC exit
Sept 15 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
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FORMER Everton youth academy star John Paul Kissock has revealed his devastation at being released by the club he will “always love.” And the midfielder who now plays in the Scottish League for Hamilton Academicals revealed he wanted to quit football completely after being by David Moyes he didn’t have a future at Goodison Park.
The 19-year-old had been tipped for a bright future as an emerging teenage talent, but despite a handful of appearances in pre-season friendlies and stints as a first team substitute in the opening four games of last season, he never made a senior appearance for the Blues. “I was devastated to leave Everton,” said Kissock. “I have supported them all my life and will always love the club. “I wasn't Moyes’ type of player. He doesn’t have many flamboyant players in his side. But you can’t argue with what he has achieved at Everton and I wish him all the best. I was on the bench a lot and there were times I thought I might get on. “However, it never happened and I was gutted to leave. Moyes took me into his office to deliver the news and it was a horrible day one of the worst experiences of my life. “When he told me it was terrible. There were uncontrollable tears I broke down in the dressing room even though I was determined not to. “I had been at the club for 12 years and it was hard to tell the family, especially my dad. He’s a mad blue and it was a shock. Everyone thought I deserved a chance. The most galling thing is not to have played a single game that’s what I wanted to achieve. “I didn't want to play football after that I just wanted to quit. Thankfully after a few weeks I picked myself up. Now that belief is back.” Now a part of Hamilton’s Scottish Premier League squad, Kissock is determined to erase his frustration by forging a career for himself north of the border. Kissock added: “It’s a great league and the Scottish people are brilliant. I’m a bit of a home bird but the Scots are just like Scousers. “What happened at Gretna (where Kissock was on-loan) was sad but the club wasn’t run as professionally as it could have been. “It wasn’t nice when half the squad were made redundant. “A lot of young lads were there and that killed the spirit at the club. “Coming from Everton it was night and day. Seeing people lose their jobs was definitely an eye-opener to the other side of football. “I had a few options this summer but I like Scotland. It’s close enough to ensure I don’t get homesick.
“I believe I can be a good player for Hamilton. They have lost McCarthy and he was an important player in a creative sense. “Hopefully I can provide that creativity. I like to get on the ball and show people what I can do. “I want to do well here because the club has given me that buzz back.”
Europa League match officials experiment another first for Everton FC
Sept 16 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Multimedia Background image for 'Tennis star Andy Murray trains with Everton squad ahead of Davis Cup tie in Liverpool' EVERTON will be involved in another football first tomorrow night. The Blues Europa League match with AEK Athens will feature five match officials – two extra assistants operating along the goalline at either end to scrutinise penalty calls and whether the ball has crossed the line. The officials will be in communication with the referee via radio and are able to aid the referee in the same way in which a 'linesman' would. The scheme is taking place across every game in the Europa League group stage. A joint statement from FIFA and UEFA explained: “In essence, the additional assistant referees will provide two extra pairs of eyes to monitor the game and ensure that the laws of the game are upheld, informing the referee of incidents of any kind that he may otherwise have missed, particularly in key areas of the field like the penalty area and its surroundings. “The referee will remain in sole charge of the match and the only match official with decision-making powers.” As usual, the referee will also be supported by his two normal assistants and the fourth official. The success of the initiative will be monitored and assessed prior to any further usage. UEFA president Michel Platini hopes the initiative will end the culture of diving to win penalties. “I know why players dive. I’ve dived myself,” he said. “We did it because we knew the referee wouldn’t see it and also because there were no cameras. “The first time I simulated a dive, everyone in my team said to me ‘Well done’. If we could get away with it, we would. It has always been like that. But, with our plan to bring in five officials you will be spotted. If you aren’t, it’s the fault of the officials.” Platini said that once a decision is taken, players will give up simulating due to fears they will be caught by referees. “I am convinced, with the extra officials, that if you have referees close by it will prevent players from simulating and they will take the right decision. I have always said it is better to have more referees than a multiplication of disciplinary procedures or to refer to videos during matches,” he added.
Everton's famous firsts
* First club to be presented with the League Championship trophy and first club to present medals
* First club to stage an FA Cup final in 1894
* First club to go on an overseas football tour
* First club to issue a regular match programme for home fixtures
* First club to install dugouts and undersoil heating
* First club to win a European penalty shoot-out – in the 1970 European Cup
* First club to play 4000 top-flight games
* First club to play 100 seasons in the top-flight
* First club to stage a World Cup semi-final in Britain
* First club to be featured in a TV game – 1936 v Arsenal
Goodison revs up for five referee experiment for Everton FC vs AEK Athens in Europa League
Sept 16 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON will be at the forefront of one of football’s most radical changes this week, when the Europa League's group stage kicks off with five-man refereeing teams. The rebranded UEFA Cup competition is to feature an additional assistant referee beside each goal to help judge whether players have dived in the penalty box and committed fouls at set-pieces, and also determine if the ball has crossed the goal-line. The system will be unveiled at 24 matches tomorrow, including Everton’s opening group clash at Goodison Park against AEK Athens. Officials are hoping it can drastically reduce the number of refereeing mistakes – often cruelly exposed by television replays – without using video technology. Evertonians, however, might believe the experiment has come four years too late. Their only foray into the Champions League came to an end in a qualifying round at Villarreal when renowned referee Pierluigi Collina mysteriously disallowed a Duncan Ferguson goal with no offence apparently having been committed. The officials at Goodison tomorrow night will all be from Poland. UEFA president Michel Platini and FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter are firmly opposed to technology, with the exception of microphones and headsets used by match officials to communicate with each other. “Things have not improved in refereeing for more than 100 years. I am against video technology because that will take the human face away from the game but this system will help the referee make the right decision,” Platini said last month. “It could be the most significant change in the way the game is officiated for over 100 years.”
The last major rule change came in 1992 when goalkeepers were banned from handling back passes following an outcry over negative play at the 1990 World Cup.
Nine years ago a low-key experiment was carried out in Brazil's Paulista championship where two match referees – one in each half – took charge of games, each with equal responsibility. However, soccer's governing body FIFA decided against adopting it. The additional assistant referees will be positioned on the opposite side of the goal to the nearest linesman but will not have flags. They will generally remain behind the goal but may enter the penalty area to keep up with the action when play moves to the other end of the pitch.
Vaughan told he can take loan chance
Sept 16 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES will allow James Vaughan a temporary move away from Goodison Park – if Middlesbrough follow up their initial interest. The England Under-21 international has found opportunities to shine for Everton limited this season and with his involvement limited to eight minutes as a substitute against SK Sigma Olomouc.
He has, of course, suffered terribly with injuries in recent years and has missed a huge amount of games, so it is no surprise that his manager is eager for him to get a chance to get some regular starts under his belt. Middlesbrough have had Vaughan watched on a number of occasions recently – most notably in Everton reserves’ 2-0 defeat at Hull on Monday – and Moyes will not stand in Vaughan’s way if he receives a call from Gareth Southgate. “Vaughany is all right,” said Moyes. “He has had a few problems with his knee but it's settled now. He trained the last few days and will be in the squad on Sunday. “It would benefit James to go out on loan. It will benefit him to get some games, that will be valuable to the boy. He has missed a lot of football.”
Since entering the history books on his debut in 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in April 2005, the Blues’ youngest ever goalscorer – who is under contract until 2011 – has made just 10 starts. He was the subject of a bid from Stoke City during the last transfer window but the Potters could not agree a fee with Everton for the 21-year-old, who currently finds Jo, Louis Saha and Ayegbeni Yakubu ahead of him in the race for a starting place Meanwhile, Everton will be involved in another football first tomorrow night. The Blues Europa League match with AEK Athens will feature five match officials – two extra assistants operating along the goalline at either end to scrutinise penalty calls and whether the ball has crossed the line. The officials will be in communication with the referee via radio and are able to aid the referee in the same way in which a 'linesman' would. The scheme is taking place across every game in the Europa League group stage. A joint statement from FIFA and UEFA explained: “In essence, the additional assistant referees will provide two extra pairs of eyes to monitor the game and ensure that the laws of the game are upheld, informing the referee of incidents of any kind that he may otherwise have missed, particularly in key areas of the field like the penalty area and its surroundings. “The referee will remain in sole charge of the match and the only match official with decision-making powers.”
As usual, the referee will also be supported by his two normal assistants and the fourth official. The success of the initiative will be monitored and assessed prior to any further usage. UEFA president Michel Platini hopes the initiative will end the culture of diving to win penalties. “I know why players dive. I’ve dived myself,” he said. “We did it because we knew the referee wouldn’t see it and also because there were no cameras. “But, with our plan to bring in five officials you will be spotted.”
Everton boost over Phil Neville as David Moyes eyes Lucas Neill swoop
Sept 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Lucas Neill 300
LUCAS NEILL was due to undergo a medical at Finch Farm today as Everton aimed to wrap up his signing on a free transfer. The Australian international has been without a club since his contract with West Ham United expired in June but in now ready to answer an urgent call from David Moyes. Though Everton’s manager has received a major boost with the news that Phil Neville does not need an operation, he is still going to be without an experienced and versatile player for the next eight weeks. That is why he has moved swiftly to recruit Neill, who can play both as a right-back and in the centre of defence. Neill – who was once a target for Liverpool – attracted the attentions of a number of Premier League sides and clubs from continental Europe during the summer but none could match the terms he was asking for. However, Goodison officials have held a number of discussions with his advisors in the past couple of days and it now looks likely that the 31-year-old will become an Everton player within the next 24 hours. Neill started his career with Millwall in 1995 – where he later played with Tim Cahill – before he moved to Blackburn Rovers in 2001. The Australian played 188 games for Rovers and scored five times before his transfer to West Ham in 2007. In the same year he was made captain of Australia and has been capped 50 times by his country. Neville, meanwhile, could be back in action for the big double header against Manchester United and Liverpool in November after he received a positive update from on the knee ligament damage he sustained during the defeat at Fulham. It was initially feared Neville was set for a lengthy lay-off and that would definitely have been the case had an operation been required to correct the problem. However, a meeting with a knee surgeon in Manchester yesterday went better than expected and Neville – who is now looking at being out for between eight and 10 weeks – was told that the tear will repair naturally. But with Neville injured, Tony Hibbert suspended and John Heitinga ineligible, Moyes is going to have to play Dan Gosling as auxiliary right-back this evening when Everton begin their Europa League campaign against AEK Athens. Having won only one of their first four Premier League matches, Moyes is desperate for his team to get back in the groove and he has challenged them to rediscover the zest that has carried them to back-to-back fifth places finishes. “We want to play better and start getting rhythm which we’re yet to find,” said Moyes, who will give a first start to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in midfield. “We haven’t created much this season around the box and that’s all down to the lack of rhythm. We are looking to play better and we are striving for the right balance.”
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: Joining Everton is my lucky ticket
Sept 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FROM heartbreaker to matchmaker: Guus Hiddink destroyed Everton’s hopes of silverware in May but his silver tongue has provided Diniyar Bilyaletdinov with a chance to fulfil a dream. It is well known that Chelsea’s erstwhile manager gave a glowing recommendation when he answered a call from David Moyes asking about the talents of a young man who has become an important figure in Russia’s national team. In football, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean the same information will be relayed when a potential target meets the middle man; there have, after all, been plenty of cases where players have been urged to resist all advances from certain clubs. Hiddink, however, has a reputation for honesty and fairness, so when Bilyaletdinov sought his opinion on whether he should leave Lokomotiv Moscow, where he was settled and comfortable, to join Everton, the answer could not have been more emphatic. “He told me Everton were one of only a couple of teams who really impressed when he was at Chelsea,” explained the man who is now affectionately known as ‘Billy’. “He told me they play in a contemporary style, under a good coach who likes to pass the ball. “I talked to Guus in Moscow, when we were with the national team last month and asked again what he thought. During the negotiations, he told me that it would be a really good step forward for me. That was all I needed to hear.” Of course, Hiddink’s positive rhetoric will never make up for that 2-1 defeat Everton suffered at Wembley in the FA Cup final but, looking at Bilyaletdinov’s pedigree, there is little doubt he has recommended a player with the potential to be out of the top draw. Comfortable in a variety of positions across the middle – his preference is to play inside left – Bilyaletdinov is poised to make his first start for the Blues when they kick-off their Europa League adventure with a tricky home clash against AEK Athens this evening. Results domestically might not have gone as the 24-year-old would have envisaged when signing on the dotted line and eyebrows were raised in certain quarters after Moyes refrained from using him in the defeat at Fulham, even though the Blues were trailing.
Yet ask Bilyaletdinov for his first impressions of being in England and he can only see positives – life might be much faster and more intense in Moscow but the early signs are that he has made the right choice to move from east to west. “I was told that originally the plan was to loan me for six months with a view to signing me in the future,” explained Bilyaletdinov, when asked what he knew of Everton‘s attempts to recruit him during the January transfer window. “There were some other clubs – both English and from continental Europe – who were interested in signing me last winter but there were a number of obstacles that prevented serious negotiations taking place.
“But that is not a problem now. I understand how lucky I am to be at a club like Everton, a club with such a great history and stature. “When I signed here, I really got myself a lucky ticket and I can’t wait to get started. “The atmosphere is good and I am really impressed with the training facilities. Everton have got a lot of fans who live for football, it is part of the culture. They show such passion and it is impressive for me to be a part of it. “Now I will do my very best for the team, to help us get the best possible results. Life was so fast in Moscow, nowhere near what it is like here in Liverpool, but it shouldn’t be a problem for me to settle. “I have been told from a young age that if you work hard that you will always achieve your ambitions and it was always my ambition to play in England at some point. “I am here now and looking forward to helping this team hopefully win some prizes.” The prize they are playing for tonight against an AEK Athens side that has started the Greek season with a bang would certainly be lustily celebrated if it were to be presented to the Blues next May but something not being so well received is UEFA’s latest fad. Goodison will host the first competitive game played with five match officials and Moyes has admitted that he – not to mention his coaching staff and players – is a little perplexed by how it will work out. “I’m not sure if two people behind the goal is the correct answer, but we have to support it if they want to get more decisions right,” said Moyes. “There will be human error but you would hope that with more people watching, there’ll be less human error. “Not necessarily this but they have thought about different things and they’ve given this a go to make things a bit better. Might see more pens, more things in the box, jersey pulling and blocking, maybe now you’ll see a raft of penalties. “That’s where I’m talking about not having any briefing. We know if you pull a jersey in the box it’s a risk, but you might find they’re giving every single thing and we’ve not had any directive except to say where they’re going to stand and what they’re going to stand. “We should have had a clear briefing but I think (UEFA) are not too sure how it’s going to work. “Clubs involved should have had it set up during training or someone explain how it’ll work – all I’ve had is a sheet of paper showing me where they’re going to stand.” Everton will be down to the bare bones in defence this evening, given that Phil Neville is injured, John Heitinga is ineligible and Tony Hibbert is suspended
The Jury: Everton fans reflect on Fulham defeat and look ahead to UEFA Europa League action
Sep 17 2009 Liverpool Echo
DAVID WALLBANK, Huyton
IT’S been an awful start to the season securing just three points from a possible 12.
Humiliating defeats to Arsenal and Burnley while also throwing away a first-half lead at Craven Cottage on Sunday. I worry that other clubs such as Spurs and Manchester City have put too much investment into their squads not to succeed, while the Blues have again tried to add to their ranks on a shoestring budget. It now seems an even bigger ask for the Blues to retain fifth spot and an almost impossible feat to break the top four. The sight of Phil Neville being stretchered off at Fulham was not great, as he had been fantastic ever since he arrived at Goodison Park and will be a big miss.
Tonight’s opponents AEK Athens are currently fourth in the Greek Super League and are in good form so big players like Cahill and Pienaar need to stand up and make a difference.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
CRAVEN COTTAGE hasn’t been a happy hunting ground. Sunday’s defeat, though, is one of the most worrying results we have had there. Having had long spells of dominance in the first-half, we were hardly a threat in the second. The players need to pick their heads up and start picking up some points, otherwise we will be left playing catch-up all season. Phil Neville’s injury is a big blow; it’s hardly believable how many of our regular players have picked up long-term injuries in the last year.
Hopefully the team will not be too disheartened by the loss of their captain. Fortunately we seem to have a tight-knit squad who usually cope well with the absence of a teammate. A win would be great tonight, but a loss would be nowhere near as worrying as a defeat to Blackburn on Sunday.
MIKE WILLIAMSON, Chester
DAVID MOYES deserved the plaudits for last season’s achievements but he must now be prepared to accept that he got it wrong at Fulham – big time. The team selection was predictable and again revealed the manager’s inexplicable caution. With the Yak, Vaughan and Bilyaletdinov on the bench, we should have gone looking to have the game won by half-time. Instead, with a great chance to press on after Tim popped up again, we allow a mediocre team with three players returning from injury and a rookie keeper to take three points. On top of that, Jo was having his worst performance ever in an Everton shirt but we have to wait 70 minutes for him to be replaced – and we still don’t get to see our Russian winger! The start to the season is nothing short of a shambles. I am angry, frustrated and totally fed-up with the post-match cliches. Patience is indeed a virtue – but one that is wearing increasingly thin.
TONY SCOTT, Walton
I AM sick of the unfair criticism Marouane Felliani is getting from some Evertonians.
Fellaini causes problems for the opposition up front, keeps the ball better than anyone and we'd be worse off without him. FACT! Only Evertonians would moan about a 21-year-old who was top scorer in his first season. You'd think Fellaini himself set the transfer fee the way some people moan about him. Apart from Rodwell, he's the only player on the pitch who doesn’t think of 'hoofing it forward'. Twice he's come on as a sub and twice he's made an impact. In the 19 minutes he was on for on Sunday, he put Pienaar through with the keeper to beat, had a shot blocked that was goal-bound and had a header kicked off the line – that's more than some players did for the whole 90.
Time to look for different scapegoat.
Pat Nevin: Everton must be wary of AEK Athens threat in Europa League clash
Sept 17 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PAT NEVIN relishes his returns to Goodison Park but tonight he will experience a mixture of elation and frustration. In his role as an analyst for Channel Five, Nevin – a flying winger who made 150 appearances for Everton between 1988 and 1992 – has three visits to the place he once called home to look forward to between now and Christmas. And he sees no reason why David Moyes’s squad can’t bounce back to form against AEK Athens. He – like so many others – has been concerned with the way the Blues have started this campaign and hopes three defeats from the opening four Premier League matches is not a sign of things to come. The Europa League, though, offers a welcome distraction and there is little doubt that Everton will start as favourites against their Greek opponents but Nevin has warned not to underestimate the threat that AEK will pose. “I’ve seen quite a bit of AEK over the years and they are a very strong side – they and Benfica will provide the biggest threat to Everton’s hopes of progress,” said Nevin. “It’s been a difficult start to the season and there has been a bit of disruption at the back, with Joleon Lescott leaving and Phil Jagielka being injured, which is a real shame but I watched them against Wigan and they are still a top side. “They will be desperate to get a couple of good results as quickly as possible to nip any signs of confidence draining away in the bud. But Davie knows what he is doing.”
Review: Club Everton serves up dish of the day after tasty win
Sep 17 2009 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo
Greg O’Keeffe enjoyed a pre match bite with a difference
A CUP of tea and a bacon butty is pretty much the extent of my dining standards before an Everton game. And as us football supporters can be a superstitious lot when it comes to matchday routines, I’m rarely keen on deviating from the menu.
But an opportunity to sample Everton’s newly re-launched pre-match hospitality was too good to resist. Club Everton is based in the marquee on the corner of Goodison Road that has been home to part of the Toffee’s hospitality set-up for a while now.
Despite being, well, a big tent in a car park, I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere and standard of food and service on offer. But Everton have decided on a bit of fine-tuning, introducing a new name for the experience along with some ambitious new menus. Me and fellow blue Tony headed to Club Everton for the Wigan Athletic game on the bank holiday/Mathew Street festival weekend. The blues were looking for their first league win and things weren’t going exactly to plan on the playing front, but we were cheered-up by the addition of new signings Sylvain Distin, who was making his debut, and flying Russian Diniyar Bilyaletdinov who we were both looking forward to seeing in blue shirts for the first time. The usual pre-match tactical debates were order of the day while we were seated and a polite, friendly and efficient waitress took our drinks orders. The draft lager selection was a bit limited with the unremarkable Aussie cooking lager Fosters and Chang (we love them because they sponsor us but less said about the taste of the beer the better) the only choices. Fortunately we spotted some ice cold Becks with our names on them (not literally, that would be taking attention to detail too far) in the fridge and started off the day as we meant to go on. Part of the fun of Club Everton is that, depending on the size of your party, you are likely to be seated next to other people enjoying the experience. Our table was a lively mix including three girls who supported Preston North End but were being treated by a client of their company to a day and night in Liverpool, and a happy family of 2.4 Evertonians with a special birthday to celebrate. The banter was fun and relaxed and we eyed the menus hungrily as one of the Blues media officers conducted an interview with popular ex-player and Wales international Barry Horne. Their chat provided interesting background to the scoreline predictions and tactical discussions on our table but the first matter to be settled regarded food choices. My starter of bubble and squeak with fried quails eggs and pompadour sauce was light but tasty and boded well for things to come. Tony said that his garden vegetable soup with Maldon sea salt croutons was equally enjoyable and ignited his appetite. I barely had to bother reading the other options after spotting the roast topside of beef with horseradish yorkshire pudding, season vegetables, fondant potato and pan gravy. It was delicious. The serving of beef was generous and perfectly cooked. Neither too chewy or rare and the gravy complemented it perfectly. Tony went for the pan fried sea bass fillets in an olive oil, garlic, lemon and parsley marinade which he said was rich but not overly and the fillets were plump and melt in the mouth. We both enjoyed some of the impressive selection of breads to mop up our mains and more Becks washed everything down nicely. By then the talking point focus had already switched to the curious dessert offering, namely the vodka and Red Bull trifle (fruits of the forest set in vodka and red bull with vanilla infused custard and exploding candy). To add to the effect the serving came in a tall shot glass. It didn’t let us down, tasting as great as it was unusual. The vanilla infused custard was the triumph of the dish with the exploding candy a pleasant flash-back to childhood. But even the exotic dessert was outshone by the surprise guest of the day, Toffee’s legend Alex Young who popped in to answer some questions. We’d just finished and drunk the last of our Fairtrade coffee when it was time to make our way to the excellent Main Stand seats which are part of the Club Everton package. Things are rarely straightforward when it comes to the playing side for the Blues, but despite a few jitters our first three points of the season were duly captured. Another good aspect of Club Everton is being able to go back to the marquis and enjoy more drinks and coffee while the post-match traffic sorts itself out. Judging by the wide smiles on the faces of the rest of our table they had enjoyed the afternoon every bit as much as us, even the ardent Preston North End fans said they’d like to come back. It was a result and an afternoon to savour.
Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Tel: 0151-530 5300
Details of meal
Service: Spot on.
Value: Good value compared to other Premier League hospitality packages and plenty to justify the extra costs above a normal match ticket. Ideal for a business treat or special day
MOYESIE SETS UP SWOOP FOR LUC
By Dave Lyons
Sept 17 2009 Daily Star
EVERTON have targeted Lucas Neill as the man to rescue them from their injury crisis. Neill, 31, has been without a club since leaving West Ham at the end of last season. A return to Upton Park and a proposed move to Sunderland collapsed due to wage demands of around £80,000 a week. But his ability to play at right-back or centre-back is interesting Everton boss David Moyes and talks have begun to thrash out a one-year rolling deal. Neill’s agent Darren Jackson refused to comment on any possible switch last night. The key will be his personal terms, with Everton unlikely to offer any more than £40,000 a week. Moyes will also be anxious about Neill’s match fitness – he has not played a club game this season. His failure to secure a club means the Aussie has not been paid since July 1 and that could work to Everton’s advantage. Everton face AEK Athens tonight in their opening group game in the Europa League. They are without suspended Tony Hibbert, while John Heitinga is ineligible until the new year and skipper Phil Neville faces four months on the sidelines after damaging knee ligaments against Fulham on Sunday.
Moyes said: “Losing Phil is just like losing several players. “We have problems in midfield and right-back because of losing Phil, but we don’t have cover for centre-halves or left-backs at the moment either because Phil would have covered there.”
Dan Gosling, 19, is likely to be asked to play in the unfamiliar role of right-back against AEK. Moyes will also hand a full debut to midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov following his £10m move from Lokomotiv Moscow.
EVERTON: Howard; Gosling, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Pienaar, Cahill, Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov; Fellaini; Jo.
AEK ATHENS: Saja; Araujo, Geraldo, Jahic, Juanfran; Kafes, Makos, Nsaliwa; Scocco, Blanco, Leonardo.
Referee: Robert Malek (Poland).
Everton 4, AEK Athens 0: European adventure brings home comfort
Sep 18 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
NOT for the first time in recent years, Everton found staring at the face of adversity to their liking last night. Domestic matters may continue to perplex this season but European competition is proving far more accommodating for David Moyes’s side.
While the Goodison outfit had been rightly criticised for their alarmingly powder-puff capitulation against Fulham at the weekend, here they were vibrant and purposeful to ensure their Europa League group campaign opened with comfortable victory against AEK Athens. The Greeks went the same way as Sigma Olomouc had in the qualifying round, ruthlessly overpowered and dispatched with the minimum of fuss even before Everton’s job was made easier by the 55th-minute dismissal of Carlos Araujo.
It was Moyes’s 11th win in Europe since arriving at Goodison, equalling the club record held by Harry Catterick. Indeed, the only negative came with the injury-time red-card for Louis Saha, dismissed for raising a retaliatory arm after taking a kick from AEK’s Juanfran that was missed by the referee and his four assistants.
UEFA have opted to use the competition to trial the use of two extra officials behind each goal to adjudicate on whether the ball has crossed the goal-line or any penalty box incidents. Moyes had warned the experiment could cause confusion over what would be permitted in the hustle and bustle of a packed area. But, if anything, Everton benefited from the new rule, capitalising on hesitancy in the visiting defence by scoring twice from corners during the opening quarter. Centre-back pairing Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin were the unlikely marksmen, but both were upstaged by Steven Pienaar’s brilliant 25-yard strike for the third before Jo completed the rout late on. Shifted to a right midfield slot with new £9million signing Diniyar Bilyaletdinov handed a first start on the opposite flank, Pienaar was Everton’s creative fulcrum throughout the decisive first half. With Phil Neville joining Mikel Arteta on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, Pienaar is certain to assume extra responsibility as the most senior, experienced member of Moyes’s midfield. The South African has not shirked from any of the challenges posed during his time at Goodison, and his response last night, like that of the team as a whole, will have encouraged Moyes.
For his part, Bilyaletdinov demonstrated the set-piece prowess for which he is renowned by delivering left-footed corners from which Yobo and Distin wrested the early initiative. The Russian also claimed an assist for Pienaar’s goal and those exploits earned him a standing ovation on his substitution after suffering a groin strain, although it may take a little longer for those same fans to pen a suitable chant for one of the Premier League’s biggest names. With group favourites Benfica beating BATE Borisov in last night’s other game, a positive result in Belarus in a fortnight would put Everton in a strong position to progress to the knockout stages. Everton were busy before the game, signing Lucas Neill for the rest of the season and sanctioning the loan move of James Vaughan, who will stay at Coca-Cola Championship side Derby County until January. Like John Heitinga, Neill – who was introduced to the Goodison crowd at half-time as “the man who once turned down Liverpool ” – is ineligible for European duty until the New Year, and with Neville out until Christmas and Tony Hibbert suspended, Moyes was left with few options at right-back last night. The manager again turned to Dan Gosling, who had deputised for Hibbert after his early sending-off in the Czech Republic last month, and the 19-year-old demonstrated his versatility with a tidy display. Central to this victory was another towering performance from Jack Rodwell. The teenager was one of very few positives to emerge from the weekend defeat at Craven Cottage, and here he excelled, showing maturity beyond his years to dominate midfield in an anchorman role.
Everton had not lost in three previous meetings with Greek opposition and there was never any chance of that record being threatened after they forged ahead with two goals in the opening 17 minutes. Pienaar’s run and shot forced AEK goalkeeper Sebastian Saja to turn the ball behind for a corner, from which Bilyaletdinov’s deep delivery to the far post was met by the criminally unmarked Yobo – captain for the evening in Neville’s absence – to head home. Seven minutes later came more of the same. This time, Bilyaletdinov’s outswinging corner from the left was helped goalwards by Marouane Fellaini and Distin stretched to force the ball past Saja.
It was the centre-back’s first goal since netting for Manchester City at Middlesbrough in March 2007. Brazilian Jo, again given an opportunity in attack, headed over after Fellaini flicked on another Bilyaletdinov cross before being narrowly off target when reaching to nod a raking Distin long ball. The goal of the game came eight minutes before the interval. Again Bilyaletdinov was involved, playing a square pass to Pienaar, but it was the South African who did the difficult part by arrowing a fantastic shot from 25 yards beyond the flailing left arm of Saja. AEK were restricted to a few long-range pot-shots at Tim Howard, the nearest of which flew over from skipper Pantelis Kafes and Tamandani Nsaliwa. And the Greek tragedy deepened 10 minutes after the break when right-back Araujo was deservedly dismissed for aiming an unwise boot into Distin’s nether regions. Ouch. But the pain continued to be inflicted on the visitors, Rodwell and substitute Leon Osman coming close before Saha contrived to put a low Leighton Baines cross over the bar from inside the six-yard box. Jo showed his fellow striker how it was done eight minutes from time by turning and finishing from 10 yards, although Saha’s late dismissal left a bitter aftertaste to a sweet evening for Everton.
Everton 4, AEK Athens 0: Blues find touch of Euro magic
Sept 18, 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IS it too early in the season to make the comparison between Everton and the continental plug – ineffective at home but perfect for European travel?
If the start to Premier League affairs has left Evertonians tearing their hair out in exasperation, baffled and bewildered by three defeats in four matches, things could not be going more smoothly in the Europa League. Revamped for the 2009/10 campaign with an easier to understand group format, more money and more assistant referees, it might not be to some people’s tastes but is clearly to the liking of David Moyes and company. Every time they have been knocked over in domestic combat in these opening weeks, Everton have managed to find a suitably encouraging riposte against foreign opponents. While it was hard to excuse the weak capitulation at Fulham on Sunday, there could be no quibbles with the performance they produced against AEK Athens. Of course, it must be noted that AEK were poor and sterner challenges will be presented when they lock horns with Benfica and Bate Borisov, the unknown quantities from Belarus, but Moyes will be feeling much brighter today.
The last thing he needed – given that some of the natives are shuffling restlessly in their seats – was for Everton to stumble in front of a national television audience at the end of a week when he has just lost such an important figure in Phil Neville to injury. But when injuries crudely intervened last season, Moyes was forced to tweak his line-up to find a way that would be effective and minimise the loss of important players and he struck gold when partnering Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini up front. So though losing Neville is a massive blow,it would not be a surprise if Everton go on and make light of his loss by playing another brand of football. A brand that is easy on the eye, too. Neville revels in his role of being the Blues’ midfield gremlin, breaking down opposition attacks and giving easy passes, but he would be the first to admit that he does not have Steven Pienaar’s verve on the ball. Shunted into a more central role here, the little South African relished the time and space he was afforded, always looking to cause mischief, threading balls into the feet of willing Blue-shirted runners and shooting if the opportunity allowed. After Moyes lost Mikel Arteta in February, he challenged Pienaar to show he could take over the Spaniard’s creative mantle and Everton’s number 20 did that quite magnificently, week after week taking the Man-of-the-Match award. Having exerted that kind of influence from the flanks, imagine the kind of havoc he might wreak if Moyes gives him the platform to simply go out and play now that there is a space available in the heart of the engine room?
He was terrific last night, taking full advantage of the fact Everton’s opponents seemed disinterested to run the show – if the Toffees are to get out of their early season rut they have found themselves in, an on-song Pienaar is absolutely imperative.
Showing that he meant business from the opening whistle, Pienaar’s first significant involvement was a shot which hapless AEK keeper Sebastian Saja found too hot to handle on nine minutes; 60 seconds later, Everton were in front. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s corner was deep, the Greeks’ marking was woeful and Joseph Yobo – taking over the armband in Neville’s absence – made the most of acres of free space to bullet a header into Saja’s net. Once Sylvain Distin followed suit seven minutes later – again Bilyaletdinov was the provider, again the marking was shambolic – the contest was as good as over. Greek teams are habitual poor travellers and this ensemble offered nothing. From then on, the only question centred around how many Everton would actually score and a third duly arrived on the cusp of half-time, Pienaar thumping home from 25 yards after AEK’s defence fatally allowed him as much space as he wanted. Few would have begrudged the industrious Pienaar the opportunity to bask in the adulation that poured down from the stands but, equally, it would be wrong to overlook the contribution of Bilyaletdinov. Not much has been seen of the man who became the third most expensive signing in Everton’s history last month – seven minutes against Wigan is hardly sufficient time to form an opinion – but, judging on the evidence here, he will definitely contribute. You can, in the main, always tell those who have played international football by looking at the way they carry themselves on the pitch, the way they pass the ball and their ability to be in the right place at the right time. Bilyaletdinov had all those qualities in abundance and this was a most encouraging start to life on Merseyside, his efforts rightly receiving a standing ovation when he made way for Ayegbeni Yakubu just after the hour.
That move presented the clearest sign that Moyes was thinking to the next game and the notable incidents in the last third of the match were red cards for AEK defender Carlos Araujo and Louis Saha plus a goal for Jo.
Scruffy it may have been but it will have done wonders for his confidence.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Howard; Gosling, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Osman, Bilyaletdinov (Yakubu 62), Pienaar (Saha 68), Fellaini, Cahill (Osman 46); Jo.
Goals - Yobo (10), Distin (17), Pienaar (38), Jo (82).
Bookings - Cahill (42), Kafes (64). Sent-off - Araujo (55), Saha 90 + 1.
Steven Pienaar believes Everton’s Euro win can kick-start Premier League campaign
Sept 18 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVEN PIENAAR today hailed Everton’s emphatic start to their Europa League adventure – and hopes it will now kick their domestic campaign into life.
The Blues – who completed the signing of Lucas Neill yesterday on a one-year deal – took control of Group I last night with a 4-0 win over AEK Athens at Goodison Park.
South African midfielder Pienaar was the star of an emphatic performance, scoring the third goal and causing untold problems for the Greeks with his guile and industry.
It was the perfect antidote to the disappointing performance at Fulham last Sunday – the only disappointment was an injury time red card for Louis Saha – but Pienaar will not be happy unless it sparks a revival in Everton’s Premier League fortunes.
“We needed to get three points, we are now top of the league and the team did well,” said Pienaar, who described his goal as ‘the best‘ he has scored for Everton.
“There was a lot to be happy about. We kept a clean sheet and if you don’t concede goals, you have much more of a chance of winning games. “We got two quick goals (from Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin) in the first half and after that we started to play with confidence. I think that showed. “It is important for us to keep winning now and stay focused. All the guys are going to have a role to play and we have to take it into the Blackburn game. “It’s annoying when you wake up in the morning, look at the table in the newspapers and see us down the bottom. We need to get some points.”
With Benfica beating Bate Borisov, a positive result in Minsk in a fortnight would give Everton an outstanding chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
Pienaar, though, is refusing to get carried away and is content for the moment to let last night’s rout – which was completed by Brazilian striker Jo – sink in.
“Every home game you play in Europe, you have got to make sure that you get maximum points because going away is always going to be tough,” said Pienaar.
“We have still got five games to go, so there is still a lot to be done but this is a good stepping stone for the rest of the campaign.” Of Neill’s signing, Pienaar added: “We need new blood in the team to make sure that everybody works even harder for their places. “There are going to be a lot of games and we need a lot of players because there are a few injuries; we are all pleased to see Lucas here.”
No joy of six for angry David Moyes as Louis Saha sees red
Sept 18 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
David Moyes 300
DAVID MOYES was left bitterly disappointed by his first experience of UEFA’s radical new extra officials experiment. There were six match officials on duty at Goodison Park, where striker Louis Saha was shown a red card in time added on at the end of a comfortable 4-0 victory over AEK Athens for flicking a hand in the face of Juanfran. But the Blues boss was astonished that despite an extra official just yards from the incident, the provocation which led to the French striker’s petulant reaction was missed. “I was disappointed,” said Moyes. “It was a ridiculous kick the boy has on Louis before he got sent off. “It is amazing that they see the small arm but don’t see the big kick – even with the extra officials. “They were looking for something but if they did they initially got it wrong and not to see the kick in the box was really poor.
“We hope they get more decisions right than wrong and I didn’t think the referee had an awful lot of big decisions to make tonight, but I think one of those he missed was the initial incident. “We need to do everything we can to help the referees but if he was helped in the Louis Saha incident then I think he was wrong.” Moyes also criticised the AEK players for spending a lot of time on the floor. “Tonight was strange. British supporters and teams are not used to seeing players being on the ground as often as they were tonight,” he added. “It’s not something we see that much in England. “I’ve always said the one thing we have to cut out of football is diving, that is the biggest thing in football that is wrong at the moment.” Everton paraded new signing Lucas Neill at half-time after the defender signed a one-year contract.
And Moyes said he was pleased to have brought in the Australia international, especially as captain Phil Neville was likely to be sidelined by injury for a couple of months. “I’m pleased to have him. It gives us another player, especially with Phil Neville injured for another couple of months,” he added. “It is very rare you can get a player after the window closes but fortunately he was out of contract and we were able to get him here.” Moyes was also delighted with the full debut of new Russian midfield star Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, who hand a hand in the first three Everton goals.
“He played very well,” said Moyes “but he had to come off with a groin strain which was a shame because we wanted to give him as much time as possible.”
Moyes has already compared the left-sided Russian to Everton legend Kevin Sheedy, and after Everton scored from two of his corners, the Blues boss added: “I hope I got it right when I said that! “Evertonians will know a lot more about Kevin Sheedy than I do, but I think he uses the ball well and he was very conscientious about his workrate as well. “I was told he was a very modern type of player and I think we have seen that already. “His English is good and he is keen to pick things up. He will get better as he goes along as well.” AEK coach Dusan Bajevic said he was not surprised by Everton’s strength but stressed his side would improve after this result.
“We expected Everton to be strong at set-pieces and the first two goals were from set-pieces,” he said. “The third goal just finished us off. “I am confident that this heavy defeat, along with the difficult fixtures coming up, will make AEK stronger.
“We will forget this result and carry on.”
Unsung Phil Neville will be sorely missed by Everton FC
Sept 18 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
EVERTONIANS are fast approaching their Joni Mitchell moment this season.
Following the maxim: "You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone", the injury to Phil Neville means they’re about to find out just how under-rated their enormously influential skipper is. Any support which comes the Blues captain’s way seems to be of the grudging variety. I don’t think I’ve heard a song containing his name in the four years since he’s been an Everton player. Yet he is the organiser, the voice, the inspiration and yes, the leader, of the team. And for those who doubt his technical abilities, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with David Moyes a year or so ago.
I challenged the Everton manager to guess the name of the player most involved in the creation of the greatest number of goals for his side. The whole purpose of asking the question was because I thought the answer, which I’d unearthed on a statistical website, seemed unlikely. Straight away he answered "Phil Neville" – then asked me not to print the statistics, because he didn’t want opponents to discover exactly how influential his captain was with the ball. Unfortunately Everton fans are going to discover exactly how much in the next two months.
TOFFEES ACE FITS THE BIL
18th September 2009 Daily Star
By Ian Whittell
DINIYAR Bilyaletdinov, a winger signed from Lokomotiv Moscow, went through AEK like a steam train as Everton began their Europa League group in style last night.
The £9m Russian, whose only other appearance was as a sub in the win over Wigan last month, flung over two perfect corners that allowed defenders Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin to fire the hosts into a two-goal lead inside 16 minutes.
Then he laid on a sharp passfor Steven Pienaar to notch a magnificent long-range strike before the break. And any hope of a shock AEK comeback was doomed nine minutes after the restart when Carlos Araujo was red carded... for kicking Distin where it hurts most. Pienaar set the tone when his run ended with a shot which Sebastian Saja turned around the post in the ninth minute. However, Bilyaletdinov punished the Greeks with a right-wing corner which found the unmarked Yobo at the back of the six-yard box. UEFA’s experimental fourth – or is it fifth? – official stood like a spare part at the side of the goal as he was not needed to confirm the i mpressive finish. In the 17th minute another Bilyaletdinov corner saw Everton double their lead. The Russian, this time from the left, found Maraoune Fellaini whose shot was deflected by a defender into the path of Distin and he swept in from close range. Athens responded with terrific long-range blasts from Pantelis Kafes and Tamandani Nsaliw that flew over – but he rest of the half was one-way traffic.
In the 37th minute, Bilyaletdinov cleverly picked out Pienaar, who unleashed a dazzling 25-yard shot into the bottom right-hand corner. Jo wrapped up the win eight minutes from time when he scrambled home Yakubu’s deflected shot from close range, although Everton’s Louis Saha received a straight red in injury time for fl icking out at Juanfran.
Everton FC were well worth the wait says Lucas Neill
Sept 19 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Lucas Neill 300
LUCAS NEILL will work overtime to give David Moyes a selection dilemma after admitting he has fallen on his feet by securing a move to Everton. The Australian international trained with his new team-mates for the first time at Finch Farm but, given that he has not played a competitive game since June 18, will not be considered to make an instant debut against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow. Neill is in reasonable shape, thanks to a programme he has followed through the summer by Australia’s fitness coach Darren Burgess, but is not yet at the level required to be a regular for the Blues. However, Neill – who put pen-to-paper a one-year contract on Thursday night – is determined to get himself up to speed, to repay his new manager for the opportunity he has been afforded. He was wanted by a number of clubs, notably Atletico Madrid, Sunderland, Blackburn and Olympiakos, but Neill believes his decision to sit tight until after the transfer window closed has been handsomely rewarded. “There was a lot of interest and weighing up to do but I just got that gut feeling and believed Everton was worth the wait,” said the man who has taken possession of the number 23 jersey. “I was in a privileged position where I didn’t have to worry about the window. As a result of that its worked our really well. It was worth the wait and I’m really excited. “Atletico Madrid’s interest was genuine but as you can see they have a lot of problems there and perhaps the timing wasn’t right.
“I’m not going to deny that I was very excited about the chance to move country, learn a new language and a different style of football at a club in the Champions League.
“I was thinking about leaving England. I was thinking about doing something new to challenge myself as a player. As the enquiries came in, I was getting more excited. Madrid was one to consider but it didn’t happen. I was overwhelmed with some of the interest in me. It is what it is and I’m delighted to be here.” Having captained West Ham United for much of the last two seasons – and previously skippered Blackburn – Neill might be seen as someone who will walk straight into the team when fully fit but he doesn’t read the situation that way. “I’ll never take anything for granted and that’s why this feels so right,” said Neill. “We have a quality squad and there will be an opportunity to play. So I’d like to be in the thick of it. I want to be part of it all but I will just have to be patient.” Moyes, meanwhile, has challenged his squad to build on the thumping 4-0 win over AEK Athens by taking three points off Blackburn to move out of the relegation zone.“I trust the squad of players that we have got to move away from the position that we are in,” said Moyes. “I have got no qualms about that. But the sooner we do it, the better. “If we have got any real ambitions about getting near the top end, we need to get away sooner rather than later. But I think the players are more than capable of being in a stronger position than they are in at the moment.”
Jet-setting keeper Tim Howard delighted Everton FC are off to a flier in Europe
Sept 19 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Jet-setting keeper Tim Howard delighted that Everton FC have got off to a flier in Europe IT is difficult to know what gave Tim Howard the most pleasure on Thursday: four goals, a clean sheet – or the knowledge that he didn’t have to head straight for an airport. Though the life of an international footballer dictates a lot of time will be spent in departure lounges, simply glancing at the schedule Howard has kept during the past two months is enough to induce jetlag. First it was Seattle, Edmonton and Salt Lake City during Everton’s pre-season tour in July, then it was a World Cup qualifier in Mexico with the USA on the Wednesday before the new Premier League campaign kicked-off. After that, it was on to Olomouc in the Czech Republic for a Europa League play-off, back to England for clash with Wigan Athletic before another transatlantic foray, where he visited Salt Lake City then Trinidad & Tobago.
Clearly, so much flying would exhaust even the most hardened traveller but any weariness Howard may have been feeling was dispelled two days ago when, finally, he kept his first clean sheet of the new term. Having set a club record for shutouts last season, Howard was undoubtedly impatient that he had got to the middle of September without getting his tally up and running but, happily, that glitch has been ironed out. And it is no coincidence that it arrived during a game when the two men in front of him showed that they are working in sync – while Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin will have savoured their goals against AEK Athens, the ‘blank’ will have pleased more. Some supporters will, understandably, have had anxieties following Joleon Lescott’s sale to Manchester City but the way Distin has settled in suggests that Everton will be just as strong in the long-term and that is something with which Howard agrees. “Sylvain and Joe are starting to get a good understanding,” he observed. “It takes time for that to happen and it’s hard to explain why; you’ve got to get to know things like body language and work on you communication. “But that will slowly get better and the performance against Athens was a step in the right direction; it was never going to be a problem for Sylvain to adapt to the Premier League when he came in. “The most important thing as for us to get a feeling for him and vice versa; but, you know, he’s not shaken by anything and you can throw anything at him and he will pretty much deal with it “He’s been in the trenches during his career, he won the FA Cup with Portsmouth and I think he has been a top addition; as I say, hopefully things between him and Joe are going to get even better from now on.” Happy though he was to see Everton make a solid start to life in Group I, it would be wrong to say that Howard is totally satisfied and a glance at the two tables that contain Everton’s name makes for contrasting reading. Top of the pile in Europe but languishing at the bottom domestically, Howard knows the time has come for the Blues to get back in a groove and there could be no better starting point than against Blackburn Rovers tomorrow. Moyes might only have a small squad but recent evidence backs up the theory that they thrive under a hefty workload and Howard would not be surprised if beating the Greeks so convincingly is the catalyst for a vast improvement in form. “We want to get some good results,” said Howard, who will make his 79th consecutive appearance tomorrow. “It’s like any year – once you start getting a few good results, it’s boom! Away we go. We will pop ourselves right back up and do what we always do. “It was important to build some confidence going into the Blackburn game; two years ago when we got into the group stages, we did really well and it was great for our season because we were hardly on the training pitch. “There were no long weeks and we knew if a result didn’t go our way, there was a game straight away for us to put that right. It has been difficult in the opening weeks but our spirit is the biggest thing and we will now put that right.”
Certainly if they show the same kind of attacking verve that consistently dismantled Athens against a Blackburn side that will be nothing if not dogged, there is no reason why they won’t be able to start making up lost ground. With Diniyar Bilyaletdinov impressing on his first start and Steven Pienaar pulling the strings in midfield, goals should not be hard to come by for Everton – and things will turn even quicker if Howard continues to keep them out. “It was very good on Thursday night,” said Howard. “The goals we scored helped but we also limited them to few chances and, more importantly, we didn’t let them get in to dangerous areas and that was a big plus for us. “We knew what their strengths were but we also had some encouragement to go and play some football; the manager and his staff felt that if we could get on top of them, we would have a big part of the game and that’s how it proved. “We got on top and ‘Billy’ fired in some great deliveries – he really whipped them in and gave Athens a lot of trouble. He looks a good signing for us, that’s for sure. But it was just a pleasing night all around.”
DOMINIC KING: Phil Neville the glue that holds Everton FC’s dressing room together
Sept 19by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
WHAT a difference a year makes: 12 months ago, certain people would have relished seeing an Everton team minus Phil Neville – now he’s the one man they can’t afford to be without.He is not the most skilful player currently residing at Goodison Park nor would you ever describe him as being prolific in terms of providing goals or assists but, quite simply, the glue that holds the dressing room together was carried off at Craven Cottage last Sunday.The Blues have suffered some appalling luck with regards to injuries in recent seasons and these players never seem to sustain the normal, run of the mill problems like tweaked hamstrings or pulled groins.Metatarsals have been broken, Achilles tendons have snapped and knee ligaments have ruptured, giving David Moyes the headache of preparing for big games without his most influential performers.But whereas he found ways of overcoming the handicaps last season of losing Ayegbeni Yakubu – the partnership between Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill went better than expected – and Mikel Arteta, Neville’s absence provides a completely different headache.When Neville was switched from right-back last season and asked to fill the role of holding central midfielder, Everton’s fortunes soon swiftly transformed, as he barked out orders and cajoled his team-mates.Neville’s biggest critics accuse him of being nothing other than someone who points and shouts, a player who is almost untouchable in terms of squad selection as he is invariably the name that Moyes puts on his team-sheet.There is, of course, a reason for that and it has got absolutely nothing to do with favouritism – to suggest that Moyes picks his team on the basis of whether he likes someone is an idea that borders on absurd.
Shortly after bringing him to the club in the summer of 2005, Moyes was asked how he felt the former Manchester United man was settling in to a dressing room that was crammed full of big, domineering characters. Immediately, Everton’s manager started enthusing and in particular waxed lyrical about the way Neville would speak up if he felt something was going wrong or – to use Moyes’ words – “give out a b******ing” if he felt one was needed. It was no surprise, then, that he was eventually made club captain after David Weir left for Rangers in January 2007, a role in which he has immersed himself and takes the greatest pride fulfilling. The shouting and screaming you hear from him during games is not for show or to promote his own image, it is done to rally his team, keep them focused and ensure they reach their ultimate objective of winning as many games as possible. Who do you see, then, fulfilling such a role in his absence? This current squad has many great traits but few would dispute that there is a dearth of players who will ‘speak up’ and what alarmed most after Neville was off the pitch last weekend was the way that many seemed to accept Fulham had seized control of the game. So now there is a chance for someone to step into his shoes; Neville will do his best to make some sort of contribution during his enforced absence – expect to see him at every Goodison Park game, for example – but he won’t be able to do anywhere near as much. Who, for starters, will face the media to explain bad results? Who will bang the drum before an important game to promote Everton’s cause? Who will provide the voice in the dressing room that acts as balance to Moyes and Steve Round? Sadly, there is still a small section of Evertonians – if they can be called that – who, hiding behind faceless pseudonyms, have posted messages on internet forums saying that Neville’s injury is a blessing in disguise.
Real fans, however, recognise the myriad problems Neville’s lay-off presents; he, after all, has been in the best form of his career these past 10 months with his magic moment coming in the FA Cup semi-final shoot-out against his old club. That incident proved, once and for all, that Phil Neville is now Everton to the core and that is why the Blues will be all the poorer while he is forced to sit in the stands; as the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.
Romance in the air in Goodison’s Press box
YOU never know what you might see in a Press box on a European night and the first game of the Europa League group stages proved that. With the memory of Russian journalists trying to start arguments with whoever during the game against Zenit St Petersburg two years ago still fresh in the memory, it always pays to expect the unexpected but loving, rather than fighting, was in the air on Thursday.
There was a sizeable number of travelling journalists from Greece but two members of their party – a man and a woman – saw very little of AEK Athens’ 4-0 drubbing as they were too busy, shall we say, ‘familiarising’ themselves with one another.
On any normal evening, the thing to have reported would have been the fact that former referee Graham Poll had positioned himself in the seats usually reserved for the ECHO. Despite that discrepancy, though, he turned out to be entertaining, informative company and revealed Goodison was always one of his favourite grounds to visit in the days when he was officiating, particularly for derby games.
He has also clearly improved since the days he hung up his whistle – allow us to explain. At the final whistle, some people were checking how many bookings had been made when Poll said: “Two.” “Are you sure it’s not three?” he was asked.
The wry smile that immediately followed suggests his experience at the World Cup in 2006 has not left too deep a scar.
Foundation to benefit from cycling efforts
THIS week’s column could not pass without passing congratulations to the group from Everton who have just completed a charity bike ride from London to Paris.
The 310-mile trek took four days to cover and led to almost as many punctures but it was well worth while as it helped swell the coffers of the Everton Foundation.
Among the cyclists were chief executive Robert Elstone and Lee Silk, who is a constant help to all journalists experience technical problems in the media room on match days.
BARRY HORNE: UEFA’s Eduardo about-turn a self inflicted blow
Sep 19 2009 Liverpool Echo
REGULAR readers of this column will know that when Uefa banned Arsenal striker Eduardo following his alleged dive against Celtic, I knew it was wrong. Not only by its arbitrary nature, but also because I thought it would cause more trouble and problems for all the game’s governing bodies. Within a few days either side of the Eduardo incident, similar bans would have had to be given to Wayne Rooney, Tony Hibbert and goodness knows how many others. So Uefa have back-tracked and made themselves look inept. It’s not in the reversal of the decision, which I think was the sensible thing. Where Uefa have left themselves open to ridicule is in their statement upholding Arsenal’s appeal. In it Uefa said the appeal was upheld – and I quote – “following examination of all the evidence, notably the declaration of the referee and the referees’ assessor as well as the various video footage”. That being the case you have to ask yourself on what grounds did Uefa base their original decision to ban Eduardo? But if penalty incidents are best left well alone after the event, Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor’s behaviour last Saturday is a different kettle of fish altogether. There can be no denying that the player manically ran the length of the pitch to where the travelling Arsenal fans were located. He knew where they’d been, he was barracked by them all afternoon. He was intent on taunting the Gunners fans, but the defence from many pundits is that players have a right to respond in kind to the treatment meted out by supporters. That is nonsense. The reality is that players have a responsibility to set themselves apart. To set an example and to answer critics with their performance on the pitch. There have been other incidents outside the Premier League in recent weeks and all players should recognise the potential consequences of their actions . . . on the pitch and after. Adebayor may well escape a ban for this misdemeanour, but the stamping incident – which looked like violent conduct – has already – and quite correctly – ruled him out for three games.
Why the Premier League table does tell lies
APART from the freak result against Arsenal – for just 45 minutes this season, Everton have been poor. But only 45 minutes. That half against Burnley was the only period where this has been the case so far this season. I thought we played well against Wigan, were not bad against Fulham and yet the ruthlessness of the Premier League – although of course we still have a game in hand – sees us in a very unflattering position in the table. I have also seen some very poor performances so far this season from teams like Wolves, Sunderland, Bolton and Stoke, but at the moment all four of them sit above Everton in the standings. That being the case, Blackburn will travel to Goodison Park tomorrow buoyed by their first win of the season, knowing Everton were in action on Thursday and have also received the latest in a succession of blows with regard to the Mikel Arteta and Phil Neville injuries.
Sunday’s game is a huge test for manager David Moyes and his players but if they retain their own self-belief, which I’m sure they will, they could get things back on track. Especially with the expected inclusion of new signings John Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.
No hard feelings towards Everton FC on return from Blackburn Rovers’ Lars Jacobsen
Sep 19 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
BLACKBURN defender Lars Jacobsen returns to former club Everton tomorwow with no hard feelings over his departure from Goodison Park after one frustrating season. The Denmark international joined the Toffees last summer from German side Nuremberg on a one-year contract but immediately dislocated a shoulder on international duty and that injury kept him out for seven months. He finally made his debut on March 21 but went on to appear as a second-half substitute in Everton’s FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea. On that basis David Moyes was only prepared to offer another 12-month contract to the right-back and so Jacobsen went looking for alternatives and found Rovers willing to sign him for two years. But the 30-year-old has no axe to grind with Moyes as he prepares to face his former boss. “I had my ups and downs there but when I look back at the year I was still pleased with the way things turned out,” said Jacobsen, who has started all four of Blackburn’s four league matches this season “I didn’t have the best start with a shoulder injury and was out for the first half of the year. “We were talking about a new contract but the manager wanted to offer me a one-year deal and I wanted to get a bit of security in my life.
“My wife is having a child, hopefully next week, so I didn’t want to move around a lot. “I understand him fully. I was not able to play for most of the season and was struggling to get back to get my fitness level up again and I can’t really blame him.
“He gave me the chance in the first place to prove myself and then I got injured and couldn’t prove myself so I understand that. “There are no hard feelings. I enjoyed my year at Everton. “I spoke to the manager (Moyes) after I signed for Blackburn and he wished me good luck and I wished Everton good luck. I still think Everton are a great club. I talk to a lot of people there and I have to thank them for letting me play in an FA Cup final.” With a full pre-season behind him Jacobsen has settled in well at Ewood Park and is looking for the club to build on last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Wolves, their first win of the season. However, he knows it will not be easy against his former club, despite their stuttering start to the season which has left them next to bottom of the Premier League. “It was a hard pre-season but I am enjoying it so far.
“We’ve played some decent games and my form is decent as a well,” he added.
“It was very nice to get that first win, especially at Ewood Park. “Goodison is a very difficult place to play but I’m looking forward to getting back to my old home ground and hopefully we can get some points there. “They are a strong team; I saw them win 4-0 in the Europa League (against AEK Athens) so it is going to be a tough test for us but we have to focus on our own things and play the game we do best.” “If we find the things we did against Wolves hopefully we can score some goals and keep it tight at the back as well.”
I'LL HAVE LARS LAUGH
19th September 2009 Daily Star
By Neil Johnston
LARS JACOBSEN is determined to celebrate his birthday in style by showing Everton what they are missing. The Danish right-back endured a “horrible” season with the Toffees last term after a shoulder injury limited him to just six appearances.
Jacobsen lines up for Blackburn against his former club at Goodison tomorrow – his 30th birthday. And he is confident of helping Sam Allardyce’s troops climb the table after a slow start. Jacobsen said: “I was frustrated and disappointed with how things turned out last season. “Not long after arriving at Everton, I suffered a bad injury and was unable to play for eight months. “That was really frustrating because I really wanted to go out on the pitch and prove I could do something for the team. It was a horrible year, but, at the same time, it was a great year because Everton is a great club.” Meanwhile, Allardyce revealed he considered bringing Lucas Neill back to Ewood Park to solve a full-back dilemma. But the Blackburn boss opted for Jacobsen due to Neill’s financial demands. Allardyce said: “As much as we would have loved to have had Lucas back here, his package was much more demanding for Blackburn.”
IT'S THE GOOD LIFE FOR NEILL
19th September 2009 Daily Star
By Chris Harper
LUCAS NEILL believes he’s landed on his feet by joining Everton. However, the experienced Aussie defender, who left West Ham when his contract was up in the summer, looks certain to miss out on a return to action at Goodison Park tomorrow against Blackburn. The 31-year-old is looking forward to the World Cup finals next summer, but initially wants to get his match-fitness back after agreeing a one-year contract at £40,000 a week – half the highly lucrative deal he was on at Upton Park.
The serious knee injury that will sideline Everton skipper Phil Neville for the next two months forced boss David Moyes to make his move. Blackburn, where he spent more than five years, Sunderland, Atletico Madrid, Real Zaragoza and Galatasaray all showed interest in free agent Neill. He said: “I always believe in myself. It was worth the wait and I’m really excited. “It wasn’t the intention, but there was a lot of interest and weighing up to do but I just got that gut feeling. “I was in a privileged position where I didn’t have to worry about the transfer window. As a result of that, it’s worked our really well. “The Atletico Madrid interest was really genuine, but they have a lot of problems there and perhaps the timing wasn’t right. “I’m not going to deny that I was very excited about the opportunity to move country, learn a new language and a different style of football at a club in the Champions League.
“It was one to consider, but it didn’t happen. It is what it is and I’m delighted to be here. “I’ll never take anything for granted and that’s why this feels so right.
The competitions they are in, Europe and everything, I want to be part of.”
Neill came in for stick on Merseyside when he rejected Liverpool for West Ham in January 2007. Many hit out at him as a mercenary after taking the bigger pay offer.
“That’s in the past,” the ex-West Ham captain said. “It’s about Everton now.”
He is also looking forward to teaming up again with fellow Aussie Tim Cahill, who followed him to England to play for Millwall at the start of his career.
He said: “We met at Millwall and hit it off. We’ve been good mates ever since.”
Neill’s last game was in Australia’s win over Japan in a World Cup qualifier in Melbourne on June 17. And Toffees boss Moyes will not select him this week “unless we pick up an injury in training”. He added: “Lucas hasn’t had any ball contact or football contact. When you haven’t had that, it’s very difficult.”
HANDS OFF HOT ROD
20th September 2009 Daily Star
By Steve Morgan
EVERTON boss David Moyes will fight tooth and nail to stop a repeat of the Joleon Lescott transfer saga. Moyes is adamant that his club won’t be a soft target for the Premier League’s mega-rich who want to pick the cream of his crop. He was unhappy to see Lescott tempted by the sky-high wages offered by Manchester City, who didn’t flinch at splashing £24million to get their man. And Moyes knows that the likes of teenager Jack Rodwell is already on the radar of England’s elite, with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson a reported admirer of his talents. Chelsea, too, are showing interest in the midfielder or defender, 18, who became Everton’s youngest-ever player in Europe when he made his debut as a substitute against Alkmaar at just 16 years and 284 days old. But Moyes, who had little control over the departure of Wayne Rooney to United five years ago, will repel future raiders with all his might.
He said: “I hope it doesn’t happen again over the next couple of years.
“The Lescott transfer was the first one of its type I feel has happened to me.
“Wayne left because, in truth, Everton at the time weren’t ready for Wayne Rooney.
“And Wayne wanted to go to Manchester United so that was comfortable.
“But I think we are now in a much stronger position with a team that’s done well in the Premier League and been in Europe on a few occasions. “So I would be disappointed if we did lose another player. I hope the Lescott deal will be the last. We have great assets on the pitch and my players give good value. “That’s why we finish high in the league.” Moyes learned all about juggling finances when he was in charge at Preston North End, just 38 miles up the road. And he’s achieved formidable success at Goodison, working with a limited budget over his seven years as boss.
But now he’s turned all his attentions to his new squad, boosted by the arrival of Dutchman Johnny Heitinga, Russian Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, French star Sylvain Distin and experienced Aussie Lucas Neill. Now he is working flat-out to get them all to gel. Moyes added: “This is the time for me to now pull it all together and try to make it all work. “I hope the season starts here but it might take me a few weeks or longer to pull these players together and get it going. “We have set ourselves up as a pretty good team, a good football club who have tried to get success within our means.
“Because of that you want to keep up with the Jones’s if you can.”
Everton 3, Blackburn 0: Bread and butter win shows Blues appetite
Sep 21 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
Bread and butter win over Blackburn Rovers shows that Everton FC are regaining their appetite AFTER devouring dessert, a welcome helping of bread and butter. They may not be getting their menu in the right order, but Everton are at least regaining their Premier League appetite this season. While David Moyes’s side have acquired a taste for Europe, previous evidence had shown a worrying aversion to more domestic matters, last week’s second-half capitulation at Fulham causing supporters to reach for the worry beads. But after responding with the comprehensive dismantling of AEK Athens in the Europa League on Thursday, Everton inflicted the same punishment on Blackburn Rovers to further ease concerns of a season of toil and trouble.
Slowly but surely, Moyes and his new-look squad are beginning to gel, beginning to appear more like a team capable of a top-five finish and FA Cup final place.
Villain one game, hero the next. Thursday’s win had been soured by the injury-time dismissal of Louis Saha for foolishly reacting to a cynical boot from AEK’s Juanfran.
As if to make amends, the Frenchman netted twice to take his total to six for the campaign and help overcome a Blackburn side that, on this evidence, are relegation fodder. Saha loves the sight of the Ewood Park outfit; this brace has taken him to 10 goals against the Lancastrians, his highest tally against any English side. Moyes has always insisted the Frenchmen will be a major asset if he remains fit.
Of course, that’s a big if – Saha missed the defeat at Craven Cottage with a hamstring problem – but the rewards are clearly worth the extra time and effort required to nurse the striker through the campaign. Joseph Yobo, revelling in his role as skipper, scored his second goal in four days and despite moments of threat from the visitors, the sight of centre-back Sylvain Distin charging in behind the Blackburn defence during the second half indicated the comfort with which Everton ultimately secured the points.
Certainly, there can be no complaints about the level of entertainment at Goodison: they may not have all gone in the desired net, but there have been 21 goals in five games here this season. As on Thursday, Steven Pienaar was at the creative hub for Everton, delivering another effervescent, irresistible display. Only some acrobatic goalkeeping from the overworked Paul Robinson prevented the South African from yielding tangible reward from his endeavours, Pienaar revelling in the additional responsibility that has been imposed on him this season. Lucas Neill believes signing in at Goodison had been worth the wait after being without a club since June, but the Australian’s lack of match fitness meant remaining patient a little longer for his Everton debut. John Heitinga was instead given a first start. The Holland international had cited more lenient officiating as a reason for swapping La Liga for the Premier League; his reaction to a yellow card after just 18 minutes probably isn’t for public consumption. Heitinga, though, was quietly effective, and Moyes said: “I thought he did everything well. He was steady and he will be pleased. Everything was done in a decent way. He passed the ball nicely when he had to.” Buoyed by their midweek romp, Everton started brightly yesterday and, after an incisive ball from Pienaar, Leon Osman’s deflected shot from 12 yards dribbled inches past the post. As with any side helmed by Sam Allardyce, there were few surprises from the visitors. Tough, well organised and overly dependent on set-plays, it may not be pretty but it has certainly served the portly manager well throughout his career. Such route-one tactics did lead to some periods of frantic defending from Everton, with the home side forced into a succession of hurried clearances, particularly in the 19th minute when only the width of a post prevented Moyes’s men from falling behind. A free-kick from goalkeeper Paul Robinson on the halfway line was launched into the six-yard box and turned across goal by Christopher Samba for El Hadji Diouf to head against Tim Howard’s crossbar before Everton hacked clear. Moyes’s side, though, are similarly effective proponents of the dead ball, and their greater concentration on accuracy rather than the scattergun approach deployed by the visitors saw them forge ahead midway through the half. A trademark sweeping low delivery from Baines from the left flank was met by Saha at the near post, who had ghosted in between his markers to sidefoot expertly beyond Robinson. Pienaar’s run and shot solicited a decent parry from the Blackburn goalkeeper, but the visitors’ pressing game meant Everton were slowly pushed on to the defensive, a well-positioned Distin ushering behind a dangerous low cross from Morten Gamst Pedersen. Diouf has achieved the rare feat of being disliked on both halves of Merseyside following his controversial spell at Liverpool, and he once again raised the ire of the home fans by taking umbrage at one ball boy during the first half.
Blackburn retained a threat after the break, a flying Howard clawing clear Diouf’s cross as Jason Roberts waited to pounce and, from the ensuing melee, in the right place to block from Keith Andrews. But Saha struck again on 54 minutes, looping a towering header past Robinson after a fine left-footed Maroune Fellaini cross from the right flank. That was that, the visitors wilting under increasing Everton pressure. Five minutes later Yobo reacted quickly to hammer home from close range after Blackburn substitute Ryan Nelsen had made a pig’s ear of attempting to clear a Baines corner.
It was then a matter of whether Everton could add to their total. The home players lined up for pot-shots at the increasingly exposed Robinson and, when Distin managed to beat the goalkeeper, Andrews was required to head off the line. If there had been any doubt beforehand, it’s now official. Everton’s season is up and running.
Everton 3, Blackburn 0: Magnificent seven days at Goodison Park
Sept 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STOMACH-churning low one week, euphoric high the next – everybody take a ticket to board the Everton rollercoaster Seven short days ago, the Evertonian world was a bleak place to inhabit following a poor second-half performance at Craven Cottage which resulted in David Moyes’ team finding themselves ensconced in the bottom three. How things have changed; two goal-laden displays against AEK Athens and Blackburn Rovers later, optimism has been restored, the Premier League table makes for much better reading and a campaign which has stuttered and spluttered now appears to be blooming. True, it has been Everton’s good fortune to be presented with two glorious opportunities on home soil. Had they faced Benfica and, say, Chelsea after Fulham the situation might still be bleak – but they could do no more than win their games emphatically. The challenge now, then, is to maintain this current upward curve and Moyes will certainly be looking at the fixtures that must be fulfilled between now and the next international break as a chance to make some headway.
But, sadly, it would be wrong to expect their opponents in the coming weeks to defend as poorly as Blackburn did yesterday – take no notice of Sam Allardyce’s bizarre post match suggestion that they could have had something to show for their efforts with more luck. Games against sides managed by Allardyce are usually as attractive as a creature from a Tolkien novel, the result of him cramming his starting line-up with strapping individuals who could stand toe-to-toe with the Orcs who wreak havoc in The Lord Of The Rings. Those days, however, when Everton relied heavily on strength and endeavour to combat the rough and tumble from countless set pieces are a thing of the past: finesse rather than force is now the preferred weapon of choice at Goodison Park. Proof? Take a look at the young man who is currently patrolling the area in front of Everton’s defence with the sense and maturity of somebody who has played hundreds of Premier League games rather than a mere 35.
Some believe Jack Rodwell will develop into a cultured central defender in the mould of Rio Ferdinand but, with the greatest respect, it would be a waste of his considerable talents if he is not given the opportunity to prove he can mix it in midfield.
He is, of course, still a rough diamond and there are aspects of his game that need to be polished, but you only have to watch the effortless way Rodwell covers the ground, uses possession and ghosts into threatening positions to see he is more than a stopper.
“Jack is a superstar in the making,” observed Everton keeper Tim Howard before this contest. “He has got the looks, he has got the touch. We know this club will keep his head out of the clouds but, football-wise, he is a prodigy.” Few would argue with that assessment. Some of his team-mates may not have hit the heights expected of them during the first weeks of this campaign but Rodwell has been a genuine plus and the aspect which excites most is that he is only going to get better. Sentiments which apply to the team in general. Though many of the faces were the same yesterday, there was certainly something different about the way Everton went about the task of dismantling their robust visitors. Phil Neville’s injury-enforced absence has given Moyes the scope to tweak Everton’s tactics and he is not going to eschew the opportunity to tinker with the 11 men who he is going to be sending into battle during the coming months. There were three changes here to the team that had flattened AEK Athens three days earlier – Leon Osman for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, John Heitinga for Dan Gosling and Louis Saha for Jo – but in no way was the quality reduced.
For as Blackburn’s players hurtled into tackles, hoisted long balls into the penalty area and attempted to harass those clad in Blue out of their stride, Everton simply kept cool and stuck to their game plan. Yes, there were a couple of anxious moments – notably when the imposing Christopher Samba flicked a Paul Robinson free-kick onto the opprobrious El-Hadji Diouf, whose header struck the bar – but Everton were much the better side. They could have been ahead within four minutes when Osman – full of endeavour on his return to the side – saw a shot a deflect wide off Samba but, happily, it did not take long for them to get their rewards; the only irony was that it came via a set piece. There was, though, a huge difference in the way Leighton Baines delivered his precise ball to the near post for Saha to nip in and deftly glance an effort past Robinson to Blackburn’s preference for the aerial bombardment. And once they were in front, there was no looking back, so it came as no surprise when Saha doubled his and Everton’s tally with a picture book header, hanging in the air to bullet Marouane Fellaini’s inviting cross past Robinson. It was the finish of a thoroughbred striker; Allardyce, predictably, lamented the space that Saha was afforded but, in this kind of form, even doubling up on the Frenchman would have been futile. This has been the best start Saha has made to a top-flight campaign and, should Moyes handle him correctly in terms of knowing when to play him or when he needs rest, there is absolutely no reason why he could not smash through the 20-goal barrier.
Saha’s performances will be giving his manager deep satisfaction but, equally, Moyes will be just as content that the goals are being shared out around the team; Joseph Yobo being the man who put the gloss on this particular victory. Only for the heroics of Robinson, the minus goal difference could easily have been wiped out, such was the Blues’ superiority, but perhaps the chances which went begging or were kept out are being saved for another day. Inevitably, comparisons are being made with last season, when a ruinous start was dramatically transformed, but it would be rash to start making predictions on the back of two good wins. That said, all the biggest journeys start with the smallest step – and it might just be that Everton have now turned the corner. Fasten your seatbelts.
MOYES HAILS SUPER SAHA
21st September 2009 Daily Star
By Neil Johnston
HOW Louis Saha must wish he could play against Blackburn every week.
The French hotshot redeemed himself for his midweek red card against AEK Athens by scoring twice as Everton put their poor start to the campaign behind them with an easy win. The 31-year-old is already relishing his side’s trip to Ewood Park next April after taking his career tally against Rovers to 10 goals. His astonishing goalscoring record against Rovers started when he was at Fulham, carried on when he joined Manchester United and continued yesterday at sun-kissed Goodison.
Skipper Joseph Yobo also found the net as sorry Blackburn surrendered without a fight on their way to a seventh successive Premier League away defeat. Toffees boss David Moyes admitted afterwards that his side can play much better. But the Scot was full of praise of his players, particularly Saha. Moyes said: “Louis’ ability is right up there with the players I have worked with. “He is enjoying himself and his goals have been a bonus. “When he joined us a year ago people said he was injury-prone and I think he wants to prove that is not the case.” Danish full-back Lars Jacobsen missed out on a return against his former club as his wife gave birth in the early
hours. That paved the way for 33-year-old Michel Salgado to start his first Premier League match since joining Rovers from Real Madrid. But the two-times Champions League winner endured a torrid first half, conceding the free kick from which the Toffees took the lead midway through the first half. Referee Lee Mason adjudged Spanish international Salgado to have fouled Steven Pienaar and that allowed Leighton Baines to swing in a low free-kick. Saha managed to shake off his marker and side-foot past Paul Robinson from close range for his fifth goal of the campaign.
It came moments after Everton had been let off the hook by El-Hadji Diouf.
The former Liverpool man looked certain to score when Christopher Samba crossed into the six-yard area, but the Senegal international could only rattle the bar.
That was the closest Blackburn came to scoring as Sam Allardyce’s shot-shy troops failed to score for the fifth time in seven league outings. Allardyce was bitterly disappointed with the way his side failed to respond after falling behind.
Rovers capitulated in the second half and Saha was allowed to double the lead in the 54th minute after nodding home unmarked from a cross by Marouane Fellaini.
It would have been more embarrassing for Blackburn but for Robinson.
The former first-choice England keeper rolled back the years to deny Leon Osman with a stunning save. But there was nothing Robinson could do when Yobo stabbed home to secure the points after Rovers had failed to deal with a 58th-minute corner.
Angry Allardyce was critical of his side’s woeful defending – as well as Diouf’s poor finishing. The Rovers boss said: “It’s not unlucky when you hit the bar from inside the six-yard area. It’s poor finishing. “It was very comfortable for Everton and my players have to take responsibility. Too many players have put their places in jeopardy. “We’ve got to get our defending right. I don’t think it was a free-kick leading to the first goal but had we defended properly we wouldn’t have conceded the goal.”
Everton hero Louis Saha all smiles now after UEFA Europa League frustration
Sept 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Louis Saha 300
MATCHWINNER Louis Saha was all smiles again today after banishing his European frustration in emphatic style. Everton’s in-form striker was sent-off in injury time during last Thursday’s 4-0 win over AEK Athens but took his anger out on Blackburn Rovers at Goodison yesterday. Saha scored twice as the Blues strolled to a comfortable 3-0 victory to take his tally for the season to an impressive six goals in six appearances. However, it is clear to see that red card – which could see Saha miss next week’s trip to Belarus plus the double-header with Benfica – still rankles.
And now he has questioned the role the extra officials who assisted Polish referee Robert Malek filled, as they missed the kick Athens defender Juanfran aimed at him
“I class myself as a fair play player,” said Saha. “I don’t ever try to hurt anyone when I am on the pitch and my reaction was if I had just put my hand in the fire. “I pulled it away straight away. That’s what I felt I had done. But the referee had seen it different and it was just good that it did not have an effect on the game. “The thing I felt hard done by was that the extra officials didn’t see it. It wasn’t fair because there was lots of evidence that I hadn’t done anything really wrong. “You don’t want to encourage people to do things like this. But defenders like to do tricky things sometimes – they want to see people react.” Happily, Saha had no such problems yesterday, as he found the net either side of half-time to help Everton leap six places up to 13th in the table.
The Parisian left the field to a standing ovation when he made way for Jo late on but he was quick to point out that victory was achieved thanks to a collective effort.
“I did all right,” was his modest appraisal. “I’m just happy to be the person on the end of the movement and if you look at the team, you could see everyone had a spark.
“I was pleased to be part of it. It was a difficult situation for us to be in. Three points from four games is not what you would expect from Everton.”
Former Liverpool FC player El Hadji Diouf in new Everton FC racist row
Sept 21 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Liverpool player El Hadji Diouf was at the centre of fresh controversy after an Everton ball boy alleged the Blackburn Rovers winger made racist comments towards him during a match at Goodison. Diouf was questioned by Merseyside Police following yesterday’s Premier League game and is almost certain to be interviewed again this week. “Merseyside Police is investigating an allegation of a 28-year-old man using racist language at the Everton match today (Sunday) at Goodison Park,” said a Merseyside Police spokesperson. “Enquiries are under way.” The alleged incident came when Diouf was involved in a dispute with the ball boy during the first half of Blackburn’s 3-0 defeat. The Senegalese international went to take a throw-in only for the youngster, who was positioned at the Gwladys Street End of the ground, to retrieve the ball and roll it away from the player. The player is believed to have complained that the ball was not thrown back into play quickly enough. Television pictures suggested words were then exchanged between the pair before home supporters reacted angrily to Diouf, who is alleged to have told the ball boy to “**** off, white boy”. Diouf appeared to be abused again by home fans when he went to take two corners in the area of the original incident. Blackburn Rovers were today unavailable for comment . Diouf has been no stranger to trouble since arriving in England when signed by then Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier in the summer of 2002. In March, 2003, Diouf pleaded guilty after being charged by police for spitting at a Celtic fan during the UEFA Cup game between the teams at Parkhead.
In November, 2004, while at Bolton Wanderers, he spat at Portsmouth defender Arjan de Zeeuw and was banned for three matches and fined two weeks’ wages after pleading guilty to a charge of improper conduct. During his time at Bolton, Diouf was also fined £500 after pleading guilty to spitting a drink at a Middlesbrough supporter.
DAVID PRENTICE: Pass and Move, it’s the Everton groove!
Sept 21 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
ANY Everton victory at Goodison Park nowadays is the cue for the tannoy announcer to press the ‘Play’ button on his battered old copy of “It’s a grand old team . . .”
It’s triumphant, it’s jolly and celebrating fans seem to lap it up. But every now and then perhaps it may be more appropriate for the Goodison DJ to dig even further back into his musical archives and pluck out an old vinyl record. ‘Forever Everton’ contains a lyric that was used to taunt Evertonians for years. But “Everton’s the team that plays, beautiful football” is becoming more and more fitting. The cheesy 45 was recorded in 1972 – ironically when the most sublimely gifted football team in the club’s history was on the downward slide. But there’s a good football team developing at Goodison Park once again. It hasn’t reached the heights of a couple of years ago yet, when Sunderland were smashed for seven prompting Stuart Hall to go all priapic on us – and Larissa were on the receiving end of back-heeled climaxes to length of the pitch passing moves. But it’s getting there. And against a team as agricultural and obvious as Blackburn it was the football equivalent of casting pearls before swine. Don’t be misled by Everton scoring once again from a couple of set pieces. That’s merely a legacy of Leighton Baines’ outstanding deadball delivery.
Their general approach play, quality of passing and speed of thought was increasingly impressive. It culminated in the patient and probing move which saw Marouane Fellaini curve an inviting cross in – with his left foot – and Louis Saha leap to head the match clinching second goal. But the catalyst for much of that footballing inspiration was Steven Pienaar. The little South African – a creator of 14 goals in his debut season at Goodison and a mere 10 last term – has started this current campaign in similarly fertile form. His influence hasn’t gone unnoticed by his manager.
“With Phil Neville’s leadership qualities coming out of the team and Mikel Arteta’s ability coming out of the team, I’m needing to find players who can step into those roles and I’m certainly finding Steven Pienaar stepping into the ability one,” said David Moyes. What’s even more reassuring is that there’s much more talent still to come. Mikel Arteta is still rehabilitating, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was missing yesterday – and Johnny Heitinga made a favourable impression on his debut. Like Pienaar, the Dutchman boasts the impeccable technical credentials of a background at the Ajax Academy. He kept things simple yesterday, rarely crossing the halfway line in a steady if unambitious first 45 minutes. But he grew more confident as the match progressed, was eventually moved into midfield – and a number of instant converts to his ability on the Gwladys Street. Like Thursday night’s stroll over AEK Athens, the only downside came in time added on. With Everton coasting to a rightly deserved 3-0 victory, Pienaar saw a fizzing drive tipped over the crossbar, but remained motionless on the turf afterwards. He was a passenger for the final few seconds which remained, then limped gingerly off the pitch at the end. “We think he’s okay,” said Moyes. “He just got a kick right in the last minute there.” Which is more than you could say for Blackburn Rovers.
Everton boss David Moyes hails Louis Saha after Blackburn double strike
Sept 21 2009 by David Prentice,Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES described Louis Saha as “one of the best players I’ve ever worked with” after the Everton striker took his season’s tally to six in just four starts this season with a double against Blackburn yesterday. Saha scored with a precise first time shot and a soaring header, and his delighted manager declared: “I’ve not worked with loads and loads of players, but in my time in management and playing at Celtic, he’s right up there with the best players I’ve ever worked with. “He has incredible ability. A lot of managers have signed him for that reason and I hope Louis is enjoying himself at present.” Moyes also believes that the striker is hell-bent on proving that his injury-jinxed days are behind him. “When he came everyone said he was injury prone but I think Louis wants to prove more than anything that isn’t the case,” added Moyes. “He had a year or two when injuries didn’t go well for him but I think he wants to show he’s over them and he wants to get a run of games and goals.
“We’ve probably worked Louis as hard as he’s ever been worked and I think he would say that. We’ll play him as often as we can, but only when we think his body’s in really good condition.” After a closely contested first half, Everton took complete control after the break and played some impressive football. Moyes said: “The football is improving. I’m trying to get a bit of rhythm and fluidity back, but overall there were signs that a little bit of the style we showed last season is coming back.
“We’re still a bit sticky. I’m still anxious and I’m still trying to get it better. The introduction of new players and one or two other things means it’s not quite flowing, and our confidence could be higher. But hopefully today’s result will make that better.
“I thought today there were a lot of men and a lot of good performances. I think to win any Premier League game 3-0 is not easy. In the first half we had a couple of scary moments. “We had to defend big balls into the box and deal with a bit of a bombardment, but I thought we missed one or two half chances as well – Louis with a header and Ossie was unlucky with a shot which was deflected. “But in the second half I thought we were much more in control and always looked the side most likely to score.” With Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov sidelined with a groin strain, the home fans were given their first look at Johnny Heitinga and Moyes declared he was satisfied with the Dutchman’s debut. “He did everything well. He was steady. He could be pleased with everything he did and he passed the ball nicely. “We’re still going to take time to find out where we think we’ll best use him, but I got a chance to see him at right-back and for a short spell in midfield today.” Whereas Moyes was delighted with his side’s improving form, Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce was furious with his own team’s display. Allardyce said: “We made some very bad defensive errors after we had worked hard on the training ground to counter what Everton do.”
Steven Pienaar ready to step up another gear - Everton boss David Moyes
Sep 22 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Steven Pienaar in action against River Plate 460 DAVID MOYES today hailed Steven Pienaar’s blistering early season form – but then confidently predicted there is even better to come. The South African international has been Everton’s star man for the past six months and his two most recent displays in the wins over AEK Athens and Blackburn have shown that he is at the top of his game. But while Everton’s manager is delighted that those inventive performances are ensuring Mikel Arteta is not being too badly missed during his injury enforced absence, Moyes is adamant Pienaar can get better again. He wants to see the former Ajax star add more goals like the one he rifled in against the Greeks to his game and keeping driving the Blues forward with his insatiable appetite for hard work. And if Pienaar can do that, Moyes knows a wider audience will become aware of the little 27-year-old’s considerable talents.
“I think Steven is ready to go up another gear,” said Moyes. “He could go on and stamp his authority on games by making goals, scoring them and making more final, telling passes. “That’s what I’m looking for him to do now. When you see him play for South Africa, he takes a lot of responsibility for his team. “He has got a lot of their hopes as a nation on his shoulders. It’s like Joseph Yobo – he has got a lot of that in Nigeria and Tim Cahill has the same with Australia. “We would be looking for those boys to show that for their club. I’m looking forward to getting Mikel back with Steven in the team. When we get that, we will have a really exciting team.”
Pienaar, whose representatives entered into dialogue with Everton officials during the summer, was only denied the goal his efforts deserved against Blackburn thanks to a fine display of goalkeeping by Paul Robinson. He has promised, though, to try and improve on a tally of six in 81 appearances but is more concerned about helping Everton maintain their push up the table. Moyes has not yet decided whether Pienaar will start tomorrow night’s Carling Cup game at Hull City but, whatever happens, the man in question wants a victory to ensure the momentum of the past seven days is not lost. “I’ve been working really hard since I came back for pre-season and my form getting better every game,” said Pienaar. “The confidence of the players is up and it was important to get three points but we have to keep going. We were lying second bottom and it wasn’t nice to look at the table. “But Louis Saha is a good striker and every team needs that. We all know he can score goals and it seems like every ball he touches is going in at the moment, so I’m happy for him.”
David Moyes challenges Joseph Yobo to show he is the right man to captain Everton
Sept 22 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has challenged Joseph Yobo to show his leadership qualities and prove he is the right man to captain Everton in Phil Neville’s absence.
The Nigerian has been Neville’s full-time deputy since Alan Stubbs left for Derby County in January 2008 and initially wore the armband for the first time during a game at Pride Park that the Blues won 2-0 in October 2007. With Neville likely to be out until the end of November after damaging his posterior cruciate ligament, many would expect that Yobo – who is one of Everton’s longest-serving players – will automatically lead the team. Certainly his ‘reign’ could not have got off to a better start, with the Blues beating AEK Athens 4-0 and following up with a comfortable 3-0 dismissal of Blackburn Rovers on Sunday and Yobo getting on the scoresheet in each game. Moyes, however, wants to see how Yobo follow Neville’s example by getting into the thick of the action when things are not going Everton’s way but, given that he skippers his country, he sees no reason why the 29-year-old will not rise to the challenge. “Joseph has to play with maturity and responsibility,” said Moyes. “When he does that, he is a top player. “He is captain of Nigeria, so it something that he should be able to take. “But in the Premier League, you have got to lead by example. That’s the one thing Phil Neville always does. He takes responsibility, he is at the front of everything. “Whether it be training, the responsibility for the game or organising the players, he’s right there. That’s why I say he has been a terrific captain for Everton. “Now we want to see if Joe can step forward and do that. Whether he does it permanently is something I will decide on.” For his part, Yobo – who is known to his team-mates as ‘The Chief – is happy with the way things have turned around for Everton in the past seven days and he feels there are signs of them clicking into top gear. What’s more, he also knows there is a terrific opportunity for the squad to make significant progress on three fronts in the next few weeks, starting tomorrow night in the Carling Cup against Hull City. After that, Everton have Premier League assignments against Portsmouth, Stoke, Wolves and Bolton, with a trip to Minsk to face Bate Borisov in the Europa League squeezed in the middle, and Yobo is confident the early season blip will be left behind. “The games are coming thick and fast and they are so important,” said Yobo, whose record of 208 Premier League appearances is the fifth best tally in the modern era . “We need points to keep climbing the table, as before the Blackburn game it wasn’t looking very good.
“I’ve been here through the good and bad times but one thing I know is that we always pick ourselves up and that has been the case again. “We struggled against Wigan but we won the game and that was the first place that we took confidence from; we feel like the season has really started now. “It is going to be a big ask to do what we did last season again but we know that we are good lads and when we start getting into form, we will have a big winning streak.
“When we play well, it becomes very difficult for teams to beat us and that’s what we are looking for – now we have started keeping clean sheets, we are much more positive.”
Everton FC’s past goes on show at city centre exhibition
Sept 22 2009 by Vicky Anderson, Liverpool Echo
Everton FC’s past goes on show at city centre exhibition
NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN items of historic Everton FC memorabilia go on show to the public this week. The archives of the Everton Collection Charitable Trust are considered to be the most complete of any club. It includes more than 18,000 items, from early programmes and medals to a signed pair of Alan Ball’s famous white boots. Every single historical document has now been digitised to read online, and the best of the memorabilia will be on public view in Everlution at the Picton reading room, in Liverpool Central Library, from Friday. Project officer Max Dunbar said: “This is the first time the whole collection has been unveiled. “Fans have been waiting for years to see these treasures.”
Louis Saha delighted to see Everton re-discover their style
Sep 22 2009 Liverpool Echo
LOUIS SAHA has dragged Everton’s season back on track in a week of success in Europe and the Premier League. And Saha, 31, is hell-bent on proving the doubters wrong, claims boss David Moyes. The Frenchman’s double against Blackburn in Everton’s 3-0 win at Goodison Park on Sunday over Blackburn, ensured the Toffees are now out of the bottom three and into mid-table. That result, coming straight after a 4-0 victory on Thursday over AEK Athens in the Europa League had Moyes insisting that Everton had “re-discovered our style”. Saha, who was joined on Sunday’s scoresheet by Joseph Yobo, now has six goals from five games this term. He said: “My own season has started well, six goals already, so I am happy with that. I do not have any target, other than to play as many games as possible. “My best ever season was 32 goals, so I would be more than happy with that again!” Saha said: “I did enjoy things, everyone worked and played their part. Everyone had the desire to work hard for the team. “I have scored a few against Blackburn over the years, but that is not what is important, I try to score against everyone. “What is more important is that the win took us out of the bottom three and much higher in the table. We had got ourselves into a tricky situation, and we are now in a difficult spell with a lot of games in Europe as well as the Premier League. “So we are not able to just concentrate on the league. So it is going to be a tough season and we cannot afford to get into a bad position. “Now we have the Carling Cup this week at Hull, and that is something we are keen to do well in. We all want to win trophies.” Moyes expects to make changes for Wednesday’s trip to Hull, saying: “We want to progress in the competition, so we will put out a side I believe can win the game.”
HORTON CALLS FOR HULL CONFIDENCE BOOST
22nd September 2009 Daily Star
By Julia White for Dailystar.co.uk
HULL's number two boss Brian Horton has urged his players to raise their game ahead of tomorrow’s Carling Cup tie against Everton. Saturday’s defeat by Birmingham has left the Tigers 19th in the table with only four points from six games.
And Horton is hoping his side can lift the gloom surrounding their slide. He said: “You want Saturday out of your system because we just didn’t perform. “It was a crucial match and in games like that you have got to have seven or eight performing. We probably had two or three. “We only dropped in the bottom three once last year and now we are in it. “It might give us all a kick up the backside. We’ve now got to play Everton at home and they [players] should be relishing it. “If you can’t raise your game for that, you shouldn’t be here.” The club’s poor league run now stretches to just two wins from their last 28 matches and supporters are beginning to voice their disquiet with the team and manager Phil Brown. With a daunting trip to Liverpool at the weekend, Brown has emphasised the importance of a good midweek performance against the other half of Merseyside. Brown is expected to make a number of changes for the clash at the KC Stadium. And Horton is confident the situation can be turned around. He added: “We’re all under pressure at the top level. “If you don’t want pressure, don’t be in it. “If you want to be a manager or a coach at the top level, stay in it and prove people wrong. “I’ve been doing that all my life. I had to do it at 15 when I got a free from Walsall, I had to prove at Man City that I could manage at the top level. “Who motivates the motivator? We all need motivating sometimes but winning games motivates you. It is all about winning games.” George Boateng could return to the starting line-up for the first time since the 5-1 thrashing by Tottenham on August 19. The former Middlesbrough midfielder has been an unused substitute for the last three games. Defender Anthony Gardner, who has been out for a month with a knee injury, again looks unlikely to feature while Ibrahima Sonko is cup-tied.
Tom Cairney, who scored in the second-round win over Southend, is in contention along with fellow youngsters Liam Cooper, Nicky Featherstone and Will Atkinson.
Everton FC have Carling Cup hunger says Steve Round
Sept 23 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
STEVE ROUND today backed the hunger in Everton’s squad to carry them through their first Carling Cup test – as Ayegbeni Yakubu prepares to leap another major hurdle. Though this competition does not tend to be a main concern for certain clubs, that is most definitely not the case for the Blues, who face Hull City at the KC Stadium tonight. Having had their appetite whetted by an appearance in the FA Cup Final in May, Round says there is a fierce determination within the squad to now go on and win a trophy. So while some will turn their noses up at the thought of playing extra games, Round would be delighted if Everton have fixture congestion due to Carling Cup commitments. “This is high on our list of priorities, without a shadow of a doubt, and the players are really determined.” said David Moyes’ assistant. “It hurt to lose the FA Cup final but this is another opportunity to win a trophy and I know from past experience how good winning this competition is. “We would be very keen to get hold of this trophy. It’s all very well having the trappings of being a footballer but what you want at the end of your career is medals. We are going up to Hull with a strong squad and whatever team the manager puts out is going to be a strong one.”
Moyes will give some of the players who were involved in the 3-0 win over Blackburn on Sunday the chance to rest this evening, most likely Louis Saha.
And that could mean several changes expected, Yakubu is set to start his first senior competitive match since snapping his Achilles tendon last November at White Hart Lane. The Nigerian striker has made a handful of substitute appearances but Moyes has a perfect opportunity to give Yakubu a significant run-out. “Yak is in with a shout (of starting) definitely,” Round confirmed. “As each week goes by, you can see a significant improvement in him. He will be involved. “It was a very nasty injury that he had. Even for that particular injury, it was a bad one. It has taken the full nine months that were prescribed for him to get back. “But he is now looking fitter and stronger and more injury free. The slight limp you get when coming back from a serious injury has gone now and he is running freely. We certainly see him now as starting to push into the first team now over the next few weeks.”
Everton FC play the numbers game for Hull City Carling Cup clash
Sept 23 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
ROTATION, rotation, rotation: Everton begin their Carling Cup campaign tonight with the thorny issue of team selection once again a hot topic. While it has become commonplace for some of the Blues’ rivals to make wholesale changes to their starting line-ups in the early rounds of this particular competition, David Moyes has, in the main, eschewed the opportunity to become a ‘Tinker Man’. As someone whose thoughts are simply focused on winning the next match, Moyes has never selected a team with one eye on assignments down the line and the same will be true this evening when they tackle Phil Brown’s Hull City. But whereas in the past the manager has indicated that the size and quality of his squad has prevented him shuffling his pack as vigorously as others do, he could comfortably swap four or five players at the KC Stadium and not dilute the quality one jot. The opening weeks of this campaign may have been fraught, with options from the bench few and far between, but Everton are now in a strong position to go forward and Moyes has the luxury of letting some key players watch from the sidelines, if he so desires.
Though there were inevitable concerns after Joleon Lescott’s sale to Manchester City that Everton would be in a weaker position, the opposite is true and that point is backed up by the decision to let James Vaughan join Derby County on loan last week.
Had the Blues needed all hands on deck, Vaughan would have stayed at Goodison Park but, compared to recent years, Moyes has a surfeit of options and will more than likely take the chance to use them by the Humber. So with new Russian recruit Diniyar Bilyaletdinov fit again, Ayegbeni Yakubu desperate to get some game time under his belt and new boy Lucas Neill hoping for a first taste of the action after playing in a practice match yesterday, it is clear to see the squad is in rude health.
“I think that is the key, once you have been successful for a number of years,” said Steve Round, who took on media duties for Moyes yesterday. “If you have the continuity of the same manager at a club, you should build your squad to cope with four competitions. “Unfortunately for us – and it has been well documented – we don’t have the (financial) resources of other clubs, who can just go out and buy their way to that size of squad. We have had to do it over a series of years. “But we are always talking about raising the quality and raising the intensity, so that means it is a squad game now. If we are successful this season, we could easily end up playing between 60 and 70 games. “So it is very important that we have a strong squad, not just a very strong first 11. I think if you asked the manager now to name his very best first 11, he probably couldn’t tell you – but he would be able to name his strongest 18.
“The game has altered over the last five years; you see Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea changing their teams at this stage. We could name our strongest team but if you don’t make changes now when you get to March or April, you will be in trouble. “You want everyone fit, everyone in top condition when it comes around to that time of the season when semi-finals and finals are being played; you want everyone to have played enough games to stay fit and make a contribution. Players accept that.” Whether any tweaking goes as far back as the goalkeeper remains to be seen; though it is commonplace for clubs to let their number two have a run out in the Carling Cup, Carlo Nash has found himself in an unfortunate position. Ironically, he could have actually made his debut for Everton at the same stage of this competition at Blackburn Rovers 12 months ago only for the fact he was cup tied, having played in an earlier round for Wigan Athletic. But Moyes, you see, has been loathe to take Tim Howard out of the firing line ever since he gave him an afternoon off in January 2008 and saw his replacement, Stefan Wessels, be ruthlessly exposed by League One side Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup. Howard has since played every minute of Everton’s subsequent 79 competitive matches but even he would be the first to admit that Nash – a model professional whose endeavour and application keeps the American on his toes – deserves a chance to start. “Yes, he definitely does,” Round agreed. “We know that if we have to use Carlo or if he is called upon, he will deliver. We see it every day in training. But Tim wants to play every game, he is our number one and his form has been so consistent. “He has never been in the position where he has needed to be dropped and he is such a fit, athletic guy that he has never really been needed to rest.
“As you know, it’s concentration more than physical for goalkeepers.
“They don’t put the same amount of physical work into a game as an outfield player; he’s had a busy schedule but he never moans about it and we never moan about it.
“He just gets on with it and is a pleasure to work with.”
Everton FC fan letters
Sep 23 2009 Liverpool Echo
Versatile Neill could be a fine arrival for Blues
I THINK Lucas Neill is a decent signing for Everton.
He is a good player and can play right-back or centre-back, is the Australia national team captain and is highly regarded by many. No transfer fee was involved either.
NOW Lucas Neill has signed it makes even less sense letting go of Lars Jacobsen.
I don't particularly rate Neill but he is better than Tony Hibbert. But Jacobsen is an accomplished player who was here already. Would it not have been better to tie him down for three years on less wages than Neill being here for one year? Plus he is effectively two years younger, so this move doesn't make sense at all in my opinion.
Well done team
WELL done to all the team for the last two games against AEK Athens and Blackburn Rovers – not just the results but the way we played as well. I think everyone knew we would click sooner or later but I am glad it seems to have happened. Will Mikel Arteta (get well soon) get back in the team?
My line up
THIS would be my Blues team if everyone was fit: Howard; Heitinga, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Piennar, Arteta, Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov; Cahill; Yakubu. Subs: Saha, Fellaini, Yobo, Neville,Osman, Jo, Nash.
Well done Nugent
I WAS pleased for David Nugent that he slotted a couple for Burnley against Sunderland on Saturday. I still reckon he'd have been a good addition to our squad.
STEVEN PIENAAR is quality and because of his performances we are missing Mikel Arteta far less than I though we would. His shooting has added a new dimension to his game.
Portsmouth banana skin
OUR trip to pointless Portsmouth on Saturday could be a real banana skin that must be avoided all costs. We were beaten there last season and it’s vital we build on the fine performance against Blackburn and claim maximum points.
ALL Evertonians embrace our new player, Johnny Heitinga, who in turn embraces the club he called the "People’s Club". Why have Everton FC discontinued the use of the words or phrase “People’s Club" famously used initially by our manager, David Moyes?
Athens fans were great
WHAT a fantastic set of supporters from Athens at Goodison Park last week. They put our guys to shame! They showed 100% support all game and their good humour was infectious. Why can’t all football be like this?
Hull City to lift Premiership gloom with Everton FC Carling Cup clash
Sep 23 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
HULL are hoping tonight’s Carling Cup tie against Everton can lift the gloom surrounding their slide into the bottom three of the Premier League. Saturday’s demoralising defeat by Birmingham has left the Tigers 19th in the table with only four points from six games. The club’s poor league run now stretches to just two wins from their last 28 matches and supporters are beginning to voice their disquiet with the team and manager Phil Brown. With a daunting trip to Liverpool at the weekend, Brown has emphasised the importance of a good midweek performance against neighbours Everton. Brown is expected to make a number of changes for the clash at the KC Stadium but believes progress to the fourth round could provide a timely confidence boost. “You want Saturday out of your system because we just didn’t perform,” said Brown’s number two Brian Horton. “It was a crucial match and in games like that you have got to have seven or eight performing. We probably had two or three. “We only dropped in the bottom three once last year and now we are in it.
“It might give us all a kick up the backside. We’ve now got to play Everton at home and they should be relishing it. If you can’t raise your game for that, you shouldn’t be here.” George Boateng could return to the starting line-up for the first time since the 5-1 thrashing by Tottenham on August 19. Tom Cairney, who scored in the second-round win over Southend, is in contention along with fellow youngsters Liam Cooper, Nicky Featherstone and Will Atkinson.
Hull City 0, Everton FC 4: Full time report
Sep 23 2009
Leon Osman and Jo celebrate 300
Everton cruised into the fourth round of the Carling Cup with an emphatic defeat of Hull at the KC Stadium. The tie was effectively settled in the opening 24 minutes as the Toffees powered ahead with goals from Ayegbeni Yakubu, Jo and Dan Gosling.
David Moyes’ men, finding their form after a poor start to the season, then eased off but took their goal tally to 11 in three games as Leon Osman added a fourth after 57 minutes. Hull offered little although Kamel Ghilas, one of their better performers on a lacklustre night, hit the post in the search for a late consolation. Moyes fielded a strong side and will have been especially pleased to see Yakubu on the scoresheet on his first start for 10 months. The Nigerian was stepping up his comeback from a snapped Achilles and looked strong before being withdrawn after 45 minutes.
He needed just 10 minutes to make his mark as a Hull side showing nine changes from the side beaten by Birmingham at the weekend were swept aside. The opener came after Everton were gifted possession in midfield by Bernard Mendy and moments later were threatening on the edge of the box. Jo was eventually crowded out by the Hull defence but Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was on hand and worked the ball out to the onrushing Yakubu. The former Middlesbrough man confidently strode forward and clipped over Matt Duke for his first goal since last November. It was the first meaningful attack from either side with Hull’s only offering to that point a mis-hit cross from Ghilas that drifted over the bar. The visitors doubled their lead in the 20th minute as Bilyaletdinov floated in a free-kick and Jo rose highest to head home.
Everton were threatening to run riot as they added a third through Gosling in the 24th minute. Yakubu was the provider, turning well and playing the youngster into wide open space on the right. With makeshift left-back Peter Halmosi caught out of position, Gosling powered forward and fired emphatically past Duke from the corner of the area. Everton eased back and at least allowed Hull some possession before the break. Their best efforts were a deflected Tom Cairney shot and a header wide by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink from the resulting corner on the stroke of half-time.
Hull brought on Paul McShane and Dean Marney to add stability at the interval and began the second period with more urgency. Mendy weaved his way into the area and had a shot blocked before Ghilas blasted over when given a sight of goal.
Ghilas then robbed Tony Hibbert to set up Vennegoor of Hesselink but Sylvain Distin produced a timely challenge. Everton’s superiority was not threatened and the visitors stepped up a gear to add a fourth after Osman was tripped on the edge of the area by Nick Barmby. John Heitinga hit the free-kick into the wall but Hull could not clear and Osman seized on the rebound to score. Everton then took the opportunity to bring on new signing Lucas Neill for his debut just after the hour. Marney hit the target for Hull from 30 yards but Tim Howard was not extended. Cairney also tried his luck from distance in search of a consolation but his powerful shot caught Heitinga in the face. A nice run by Cairney then set up Ghilas but the Algerian struck the post and Halmosi shot at Howard from the rebound. McShane then had a better opportunity after being played in by Ghilas but Howard saved and the Irishman then scooped the ball over.
POLICE 'NOT INVESTIGATING DIOUF CLAIMS'
23rd September 2009 Daily Star
Everton insist there is no police investigation into allegations by El-Hadji Diouf that bananas were thrown at him at Goodison Park on Sunday. The Blackburn player is being investigated by the Merseyside force for alleged racial abuse of a 14-year-old ball boy. Diouf told police after the final whistle - and repeated the claim on Monte Carlo Radio - that bananas were thrown at him from the Everton crowd.
Officers immediately scoured the area next to the pitch and in the stands but no bananas were found. No pictures have surfaced to back up his claim either and Everton insist the only matter being investigated is the incident with the ball boy.
An Everton spokesman said: "Our only concern is a child protection matter involving a 14-year-old boy. "We have spoken to the police and have been told that is the only investigation they are concerned with and that they are not investigating the behaviour of any Everton supporter." It is understood that Diouf told Blackburn staff after the match that he had had fruit or a piece of fruit thrown at him by Everton fans.
Diouf, a Senegal international who formerly played for Liverpool, also denied he had racially abused the ball boy. He said to Monte Carlo Radio: "People threw bananas at me, and the referee told me that he would report this to the police." He added: "I have had other problems, with spitting or fights on the pitch - but not with racism. I can understand that they don't like me at Everton, but to say that I uttered racist words towards a child is nonsense."
Hull 0, Everton 4: Blues stroll to biggest away win of David Moyes' reign
Sept 24, 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT was the kind of scoreline that made you want to grab hold of a microphone, stride purposefully on to the pitch and burst into song. Everton’s recent past has been littered with a catalogue of difficult cup ties, so it was about time that things were evened up; only in his dreams, however, would David Moyes have imagined this trip by Humber would have turned out to be so easy. A goal for a returning hero, assured performances from men who have been waiting patiently for a chance and signs that his new boys are settling in nicely, the fact that the Blues recorded their biggest away win during his reign put the gloss on a perfect night. What a difference six days makes; from wondering what direction the campaign was heading in before AEK Athens arrived on Merseyside, three emphatic wins and eleven unanswered goals means that expectations can start climbing once again. Unfortunately, Everton are not going to find opponents anywhere near as accommodating as Phil Brown’s Hull City were here; on this evidence, the perma-tanned man known as ‘Chocolate’ will not be doing any karaoke to celebrate Premier League survival next May. That said, you can only beat what is put in front of you and such was the Blues’ superiority on their second visit to the KC Stadium, few would have argued had the final scoreline been doubled; this was as one sided a game as you could ever imagine. The difference between the atmosphere here and the last domestic cup game Everton played in May was total and it would take an enormous amount of poetic licence to suggest that this was a fixture that captured the imagination. Though he made five changes to the side that had flattened Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, there was nothing ‘reserve’ about the men Moyes had selected for duty – had he asked these eleven to contest a Premier League match, nobody would have complained. No matter what the position, quality and experience was there for all to see and Moyes has been striving to get in to such a position ever since Bill Kenwright asked him to take over from Walter Smith in March 2002. Would the manager like more players to call on? Absolutely. But, for the moment, he is unlikely to complain and when Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe are up and running again, Everton will be a match for anyone.
Of all the changes Moyes made on the banks of the Humber, the one most welcomed by all Blues was the restoration of Ayegbeni Yakubu to the starting line-up for the first time since his Achilles tendon snapped in half at White Hart Lane last November.
He will not be operating at the peak of his powers for at least a couple more weeks but this, in truth, was the clearest indication that his recovery from such a trauma has been successful. Yes, there were some signs of rustiness in the opening exchanges – one pass out to Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was woefully over hit, while a dummy meant for Brazilian Jo succeeded only in baffling his strike partner – but time has not dulled his instinct to score. As soon as Bilyaletdinov slipped a delightful little ball into his path after 11 minutes, there was a glorious inevitability about what would happen and, sure enough, Yakubu obliged with the kind of finish that has become his trademark.
It was, understandably, an emotional moment for the Nigerian and that is why he made his way straight to the away dugout to celebrate with physio Mick Rathbone, who has done so much to help nurse him back to fitness. Cast your mind back to that prolific spell in the middle of his first season at Goodison, when you knew what would happen every time Yakubu got a chance to score – wouldn’t it be terrific to think the same might happen again now? Enthusiasm needs to be tempered for the moment, as Hull have sound claims for being one of the worst teams Everton have played in the last couple of seasons. Still, this run out will have done him the world of good and he provided the final pass that presented Dan Gosling to put the tie out of Hull’s reach before even half an hour had elapsed. Sandwiched in between those moments were another goal for Jo, this one a smart header that raced away from the hapless Matt Duke following yet another free-kick from Leighton Baines, delivered with unerring accuracy. Jo might be the least heralded of Everton’s big striking three but if the Blues are going to be successful, he is going to have an important role to fulfil and a first goal away from Goodison Park will have lifted his confidence.
His ungainly style might not be to everyone’s taste but there is no disputing he knows how to find the net. Had Everton so desired, there is no doubt they could have cut Hull to pieces in the second half but, with their progress into the draw for the last 16 assured, the second half turned into a training exercise. Still, there was time for Leon Osman – relishing the opportunity to wear the captain’s armband and leading by example – to grab a fourth, bundling in from close range after John Heitinga’s free-kick had struck the defensive wall. Job done. But, as impressive as the scoreline was, there will be no over-the-top celebrations in the Everton camp just yet – the singing and dancing will only start if they are presented with the Carling Cup on February 28.
HULL (4-4-2): Duke; Mendy, Zayatte, Cooper, Halmosi; Featherstone (McShane 46), Barmby (Kilbane 66), Boateng (Marney 46), Cairney; Vennegoor of Hesselink, Ghilas.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Heitinga, Distin, Baines (Neill 62); Gosling, Osman, Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov (Agard 84); Jo, Yakubu (Fellaini 46). Goals - Yakubu (11), Jo (20), Gosling (25), Osman (54).
REFEREE: Steve Bennett.
BOOKINGS: Kilbane (78), Cairney (85).
Leon Osman hails Yakubu's goalscoring return – Everton FC latest
Sept 24 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
Yakubu celebrates with physio Mick Rathbone 300
LEON OSMAN today hailed the return to action of Everton’s lethal weapon – as he basked in the glow from one of the best nights of his career. Everton booked their place in the last 16 of the Carling Cup last night with a 4-0 thrashing of Hull City that included a goal from Ayegbeni Yakubu. The Nigerian striker marked his first start since November 30 last year by opening the scoring inside 11 minutes and then set up the third goal at the KC Stadium for Dan Gosling. Yakubu was taken off at half-time to protect a tight thigh but captain for the night Osman reckons his 45-minute run-out showed it won’t be long before he is firing on all cylinders. “It’s just so great to see Yak back among us,” said Osman of a player who spent nine months on the sidelines after snapping his Achilles tendon. “I have experienced being out for long periods myself and it is hard to take but he has stayed so positive throughout and has worked hard to get that first start. “He scored the kind of goal that only Yak does. It was just great to see him do it and we are all delighted for him.” During his first season at Goodison Park, Yakubu became the first player since Peter Beardsley in 1992 to score 20 goals and Osman hopes he can repeat that feat. “You give him half a chance and, more often than not, he will score and it is great that we have got that kind of player in the squad again,” said the midfielder. “To have an asset that will get you goals out of nothing is great for the club. “It meant a lot to him, as you could see when he celebrated with Baz (physio Mick Rathbone). “Baz fills such an important role, along with Matt (Connery) Danny (Donachie), Dom (Rogan), Jimmy (Comer) and all the medical staff. “Not only do they get you back to fitness, they keep you mentally strong and upbeat and it’s a testament to the job that they do.” With Phil Neville injured and Joseph Yobo given a chance to rest, Osman was named skipper by David Moyes shortly before kick-off. Osman celebrated his role by scoring the final goal of the rout – Brazilian Jo also found the target – and the evening went better than he could have envisaged. “To be given the armband was amazing,” said Osman. “I have been at this club for a long time and I have stolen the armband a few times when people have gone off the pitch! “But I have never led the team out in a competitive fixture and to do so against Hull really was brilliant, a special moment that I won’t forget. “It was a top performance. “We made five changes but to still score so many goals and perform like we did being so clinical was really pleasing.”
The Jury: Everton fans reflect on the Carling Cup rout of Hull
Sep 24 2009 Liverpool Echo
TONY SCOTT, Walton
WITH Moyes ringing five changes last night it was nice to see fringe players like Osman, Hibbert and Gosling do a decent job. A 4-0 win against any Premiership side is a decent result and don't forget Hull City took some big scalps last season too.
The Russian winger looks a class act and the sooner we have him, Arteta, Pienaar and Rodwell teaming up in midfield the better. It's fantastic to see Yakubu back, he knows exactly were the "onion bag" is and his goal scoring record is one of the best.
One special mention has to go to Tim Howard who has been an unsung hero lately and deserves all the credit he gets. Portsmouth, Stoke, Wolves, Bolton, Aston Villa and West Ham provide our next league opposition and who knows where we could be. Anyone fancy another trip to Wembley again?
RICHARD KNIGHTS, West Derby
SORRY for the interruption – normal service has been restored, three victories, 11 goals and three clean sheets. In truth last night’s game was more like a slack reserve training session, Hull made nine changes; Everton took the opportunity to rest key players and give others a work out. 13,500 at a deserted, silent (apart from the travelling Evertonians) KC Stadium says everything about that abandoned stray dog the League/ Milk/ Littlewoods/ Rumbelows/ Coca Cola/ Worthington/ Netto/ Carling Cup. With new players settling in – Distin, Bilyaletdinov (Billy to his mates), Heitinga, Neill – and Yakubu back from injury, there’s real competition for places and the squad is looking formidable. A job well done but surely it’s a mercy killing for the Carling Cup and the Toothless Tigers? Text HELP to Phil Brown.
COLE FRASER, Litherland
ELEVEN goals in a week... Not bad!
After the worrying start we seem to have really picked ourselves up and look ready to push on. Although we haven't had the toughest opponents this week, the performances have been nothing short of magical. Last night and last Thursday's results were in no small part down to the brilliance of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. The Russian's vision and ability to pick out a Blue shirt has proved an invaluable asset. It was also great to see Yakubu back on the scoresheet. The players can take a lot of confidence, from three consecutive and convincing wins, into the clash with Portsmouth on Saturday, with players like Cahill, Pienaar, Saha and Yobo to come back into the team. Personally I feel the current squad is the strongest that Moyes has ever had at his disposal, that regarding, both, ability and versatility. I belive that we can now hit a rich vein of form and catch up with the other Champions League contenders.
MICHAEL DRUMMOND, Speke
WITH 11 goals and three clean sheets in the last three games, I think it is safe to say our season is back on track. It has come in good time, just before the league starts to take shape and we run the risk of being rooted at the bottom. What a fantastic performance it was last night. Yes, it was only against Hull, but for them to ring nine changes for the match because ‘priorities lie elsewhere’, it was only fair for us to beat them, and comfortably. Silverware would be nice this season and it would be good to take last night as a sign for success but it is early days yet. I am not the biggest Osman fan but he seemed to take the armband well last night so I hope he takes that performance into the league. Bilyaletdinov and his brilliant crossing and passing will only benefit the likes of Cahill, Fellaini and Yakubu in the coming months.
Steve Round salute to Everton goal hero Yakubu
Sep 24 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON assistant manager Steve Round expressed his delight at seeing Yakubu find the net in his first start since snapping an Achilles last November. The Nigerian opened the scoring after 10 minutes of Everton’s 4-0 Carling Cup third round victory at the KC Stadium last night and set up the third for Dan Gosling before being withdrawn at half-time. Round said: “He is a 20-goals-a-season striker. He has had nine months out and I have seen how hard he has worked to come back.
“It has been a long road for him so the whole team are delighted for him to get a goal.” On the reason for his substitution, he added: “He has got a slight thigh strain.
“We want him to train tomorrow and be ready for Saturday so we took him off as a precaution.” And Round added: “I think the early goals made a difference, they knocked the stuffing out of Hull a bit. “They had a young team trying to get to grip with the game and I think that might have knocked the wind out of their sails.
“Once we got the goals we took control of the game and it was just a matter of seeing it through.” Hull manager Phil Brown remained defiant after his slide slumped to another demoralising defeat. The tie was effectively ended in the opening 24 minutes as Yakubu, Jo and Gosling all struck before Leon Osman added a fourth in the second half. Discontent is growing among supporters and the pressure on Brown is increasing with a relegation battle looking likely even at this early stage of the campaign.
But Brown said: “We have got a big job to do. Everybody is expecting us to go out of this division because of second-season syndrome. “It is about rolling the sleeves up now and fighting even harder. Hopefully whatever team I pick on Saturday will respond in the right manner. “Nobody likes being in the bottom three, but we have a job to do that is a long-term plan. That long-term plan is six games in. We have got a long way to go.” Brown made nine changes and fielded a number of fringe players to keep others fresh for Saturday’s trip to Liverpool.
GABBY HITS GOODI BAG
24th September 2007 Daily Star
By Dave Armitage
Gabby Agbonlahor continued his personal vendetta against Everton to give boss David Moyes a major headache. It’s one win from six now for Moyes after the midweek Euro shambles against Metalist Kharkiv – and the fans aren’t happy.
And Agbonlahor seems to enjoy sticking the knife in – he’s scored three in four outings against them, including a debut goal just six months ago. The 20-year-old striker grabbed the second on the hour to really knock the stuffing out of Moyes’ men, who really are struggling to find any sort of form just now. The Goodison boss blamed “powder- puff” defending for their downfall, adding: “The way we conceded the goals was terrible. I’ve no complaints about the result, but I’m concerned about not creating a lot of opportunities “I’m very concerned about our inability to keep clean sheets right now. It was like Fred Karno’s Circus.” A John Carew goal after 13 minutes set Villa on their way before Agbonlahor effectively finished them off with a superbly-taken goal. Praise The England Under-21 star said: “Playing against Everton is always special for me because I made my debut against them and scored and always seem to do well against them.” Villa boss Martin O’Neill was delighted after seeing his side take their recent record to three wins from four and was full of praise for Agbonlahor. O’Neill said: “He is getting stronger by the minute and he is lethal in training. He showed great composure for the goal and his touch to set it up was absolutely superb.” Though Villa were value for their interval lead, Carew’s goal apart, there wasn’t too much to cheer for either set of supporters. However, the home side still made the biggest part of the running, posing a genuine goal threat while Scott Carson, at the other end, wasn’t forced to make a single save. To be fair, the first proper thing Everton keeper Stefan Wessels had to do was pick the ball out of his net when Carew gave Villa an early advantage. The big Norwegian rammed home a low shot from eight yards after Everton failed to clear their ranks. Joseph Yobo got a touch to Wilfred Bouma’s troublesome cross – but when Leighton Baines nodded it into Carew’s path, he set himself up with one touch before firing a crisp shot into the net.
Villa might have had a second in first-half stoppage time when Luke Moore’s header from an Ashley Young corner was going in until Tony Hibbert hoofed it away off the line. Carson got his first taste of proper action just minutes after the break when Andy Johnson curled a 20-yard free-kick around the wall, with the keeper forced to make a good save down to his left. Then England striker Johnson, who missed two penalties against Kharkiv in the UEFA Cup, scuffed a great chance with a poorly-hit shot when in space just inside the box. And that was to prove costly soon after when Agbonlahor caught Everton’s defence flat-footed and scored a goal of stunning quality. He raced onto Carson’s mighty clearance and stole a march on the backline before killing the ball stone dead as it dropped from the sky. Not only did he take the weight out of it in an instant, but he teed it up perfectly in the process. As the stranded Wessels stood before him, Agbonlahor stroked it into the bottom corner of the net with a perfectly-placed shot. The visitors came close to a consolation goal right at the end when Steven Pienaar pounced on a Joleon Lescott lay-off and shot towards the far corner, only to see Carson react quickly and make a diving save.
Choked Sub Marlon Harewood was involved in an unnecessary row with Agbonlahor right at the end and had to be pushed away by Everton skipper Phil Neville.
Harewood was furious that the young striker hadn’t tried to put the ball across. However, given the former West Ham striker’s track record, Agbonlahor probably made the right choice. O’Neill gave his verdict on that little rumble, saying: “I think Gabby did the right thing. “If he had given the ball away and they had come up the other end and scored, I would have choked him!”
TOFFEES THUMP TIGERS
23rd September 2009 Daily Star
Everton were barely extended as they cruised into the fourth round of the Carling Cup with an emphatic 4-0 defeat of under-strength Hull. The tie was effectively settled in the opening 24 minutes as the Toffees powered ahead at the KC Stadium with goals from Ayegbeni Yakubu, Jo and Dan Gosling. David Moyes' men, finding their form after a poor start to the season, then eased off but took their goal tally to 11 in three games as Leon Osman added a fourth after 57 minutes.
Hull 0, Everton 4: Returning Yakubu puts Blues on right road
Sep 24 2009 by Ian Doyle, Liverpool Daily Post
NO headsets, no half-time on-pitch histrionics and no karaoke crooning. For Yakubu, there was only one way to announce his return – by finding the net. The Everton striker has travelled a long, painful road to recovery since snapping his Achilles at Tottenham Hotspur last November, countless hours spent in the solitude of rehabilitation as David Moyes’s side earned a fifth-placed finish and won through to the FA Cup final. So there was a huge emotional release when, just 11 minutes into his first start since that serious injury, he last night demonstrated he had lost none of his lethal marksmanship with a finish that was trademark Yakubu. The Nigerian celebrated by heading for the touchline to embrace head physio Mick Rathbone, emphasising the debt of gratitude the forward feels towards the man whose expertise helped coax and cajole him back to fitness. Of course, Yakubu – whose strike was his first since netting against Middlesbrough on November 16 last year – still has work to do before fully regaining his all-important match sharpness. But by the time he departed at the break, the returning striker had also laid on a goal for Dan Gosling and, with Jo also finding the net before the break, Everton’s progress to the fourth round of the Carling Cup was already assured. A further strike from Leon Osman earned a much-changed side emphatic victory at Hull City and ensured a hat-trick of wins inside a week for Everton, racking up 11 goals while keeping three successive clean sheets. With each impressive victory, the travails of the opening weeks slip further and further out of view for Moyes’s side. Remarkably, this was the first time Everton had scored four times away from home since the 4-3 win at Derby County on March 23 2002 – Moyes’s first away game in charge at Goodison. And you have to go back to March 1991 for the last time Everton netted three or more goals in three successive matches. In truth, had they not took their foot off the gas during the second half last night they could have had more, so embarrassingly one-sided was this encounter. Everton’s run to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup two seasons ago proved the catalyst for Moyes’s side to begin making their mark in knockout football.
It may be a distant fourth in the list of priorities of some of their nearest Premier League rivals, but the Goodison outfit view the competition as a realistic route to silverware. Yes, Moyes made five changes from the team that beat Blackburn Rovers on Saturday. But the standard of the incoming players – Yakubu, Tony Hibbert, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Jo and Gosling – underlined how the Everton manager can now rotate his resources without overly affecting quality. Those coming in all enhanced their claims and illustrated the increased competition for places Moyes so desperately craved before the influx of new signings towards the end of the transfer window. Jo in particular will take confidence from his strike, a second in three games, with the Brazilian leading the line well throughout, while Lucas Neill was handed his Everton debut as second-half substitute and Kieran Agard made his first-ever senior appearance from the bench late on. There were gaping empty spaces around the KC Stadium last night, and perhaps the stayaways knew what was coming.
Hull have won just two of their last 28 Premier League games and on this evidence it’s easy to see why. Even allowing for the fact this was a second-string side, the chronic lack of confidence suggests insufferable self-publicist Phil Brown may soon become the first top-flight manager to bite the bullet. That, though, is of no concern to Everton, who merely revelled in the rank ineptitude of their opponents to delight the sizeable travelling support. As if to emphasise the player’s versatility, Moyes selected John Heitinga at centre-back, the Dutchman’s third different position in his three appearances. But in truth, the diminutive Bilyaletdinov could have sauntered through the game at the heart of defence, such was the ineffectiveness of the Hull attack.
The Russian made his second start on the left flank, and was instrumental in Everton forging ahead in the 11th minute. Jo ran at the parting Hull defence and, after possession broke to Bilyaletdinov, the winger slipped the ball into the path of Yakubu, who curled a first-time finish beyond Hull goalkeeper Matt Duke. Nine minutes later it was 2-0 with Everton once more benefiting from the dead-ball expertise of Leighton Baines. After Jack Rodwell was dumped to the turf, Baines arced a cross into the danger zone and Jo rose highest to plant a firm header past the flailing Duke.
And the Hull goalkeeper was picking the ball out of the net yet again five minutes later, a simple Everton break ending with Yakubu releasing Gosling down the inside right channel and the youngster thumping home an emphatic finish. Hull were shellshocked, and it took them until two minutes before the break to create anything of note, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink – or Jan Vennegoor of to his mates – glancing wide a Tom Cairney corner. Kamel Ghlias lashed a volley over shortly after the interval, but Everton continued their clinical manner with a fourth goal on 57 minutes.
After Osman, named skipper for the evening, was upended on the edge of the area, Heitinga’s free-kick deflected through the Hull wall and into the path of the loitering captain, who nudged home from six yards. Ghilas struck the post for Hull during the final 10 minutes and Tim Howard saved well from Hull substitute Paul McShane in injury time but this was Everton and Yakubu’s night.
YAK BACK TO BATTER BROWNIE
24th September 2009 The Daily Star
By George Scott
HULL were left humiliated as Yakubu came back with a bang to help fire Everton into the fourth round. David Moyes handed Yakubu his first start for 10 months following a serious Achilles injury, but Tigers boss Phil Brown must have wished his rival had waited another week. The Nigerian hitman took just 11 minutes to train his sights on Brown’s men with a goal to celebrate his return. He also set up Dan Gosling’s third before being taken off for a well-earned breather to a standing ovation from visiting fans. It was no more than he deserved after spending almost a year battling back from a career-threatening ankle problem. It was as if the former Middlesbrough star had never been away as the visitors stormed into a three-goal lead inside 24 minutes to leave the home fans stunned. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was also a star of the show, setting up the first two goals for Yakubu and Jo as Brown’s men fell to pieces. Brown made nine changes and fielded some inexperienced players, but the move blew up in his face as Yakubu wasted no time in making his mark.
Bilyaletdinov found him unmarked on the left side of the penalty box with a clever pass. Yakubu then quickly looked up before curling a shot past keeper Matt Duke and into the bottom corner. And instead of celebrating with the fans he ran to the dugout to hug physio Mick Rathbone, who has helped Yakubu through a gruelling rehab programme. Everton then stormed into a 2-0 lead when Jo sent a looping header over Duke to double the advantage. The contest quickly turned into a massacre as the visitors tore the Tigers to pieces. And Yakubu turned provider on 24 minutes as Moyes’ men filled their boots. He sent Gosling racing into acres of space and the teenager made the most of it by smashing an unstoppable shot past Duke.
Leon Osman then completed the rout on 57 minutes when he bundled home a loose ball from close range. This was supposed to have been a close affair between two top-flight rivals. But it was more like a contest between two teams from different ends of the league scale. And Brown knows his side must improve drastically or he could find himself out of a job. HULL 0 EVERTON 4
EVERTON DEMAND DIOUF APOLOGY
24th September 2009
Everton have called on Blackburn striker El-Hadji Diouf to apologise and retract his claim that he was subjected to racial abuse during Sunday's Premier League match at Goodison Park. Diouf, who is being investigated by Merseyside Police for alleged racial abuse of a 14-year-old ball boy at the match, told police after the final whistle - and repeated the claim on Monte Carlo Radio - that bananas were thrown at him from the Everton crowd. Officers immediately scoured the area next to the pitch and in the stands but no bananas were found. Everton's director of communications Ian Ross told talkSPORT: "That is a wholly false allegation and I really would like him to retract that allegation and apologise to the supporters and staff of this football club."
Ross added: "I don't think there's a worse allegation in modern sport than racism and it works both ways. At the moment, and from my perspective, it looks like Mr Diouf is accusing Everton fans of racist behaviour. "The police will tell you that is completely untrue and in such circumstances we would expect him to apologise and retract his allegations. "We would like a retraction and an apology because they are completely groundless. "We find them offensive and a lot of our supporters have been in touch with the club to say that they find them offensive." Ross stressed Everton would have acted on the claims if they had found any supportive evidence. He explained: "In the same way we wouldn't tolerate our supporters racially abusing a supporter, a member of staff or a footballer in the stadium, we don't really like the idea of a visiting footballer levelling that accusation at our supporters. "We moved very quickly and had the allegation held any water at all, we would have said so. But the police have confirmed that the only investigation ongoing is into the allegations against Mr Diouf, not allegations of misbehaviour by Everton fans."
Dan Gosling in promise to Blues fans: Everton FC latest
Sept 25 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAN GOSLING today promised Everton will not get carried away by their recent scoring spree when they seek to extend their winning run to four at Portsmouth.
The Blues’ campaign has come alive in the past week thanks to 11 unanswered goals in games against AEK Athens, Blackburn Rovers and Hull City. And with Portsmouth having endured a terrible start to the Premier League campaign – they have lost all six of their matches – Everton will be hot favourites at Fratton Park. Gosling, however, knows the same was said when David Moyes last took his side to the South Coast in March and has warned that anything less than maximum concentration will leave them in danger of suffering another defeat tomorrow. “We have started to gel together now and we are all of the belief that our season has just started,” said Gosling, who scored in the 4-0 rout against Hull. “We are all confident now that we can kick on and push up the league to a place where we belong, so we can have another successful season. “We have got a good depth to the squad, so if suspensions or injuries come up, the gaffer can make changes and know the lads who come in will do a great job for the team. “We’ve had three wins in quick succession and we want another one at Portsmouth but we won’t be taking anything for granted, as they are a good side.”
Though Moyes’ decision to make five changes at the KC Stadium paid handsome dividends, he is unlikely to stick with the same team at Portsmouth. Tim Cahill, Joseph Yobo, Louis Saha and Steven Pienaar will all come back into contention but there will be no complaints from Gosling if he drops to the bench. He, after all, has taken great heart from two impressive performance in two different positions in the past week – he flourished at right-back against AEK before catching the eye at Hull – and knows there will be further opportunities in the future. With Everton possibly playing three games a week until Christmas, Moyes will need fresh legs to maintain momentum and Gosling has promised he will be ready for duty. “It was nice to get a run out and 90 minutes was a big help,” he said. “If the gaffer keeps playing the fringe players in the Carling Cup, we can push for the first team. “We all want to be playing in the Premier League but to play in any competition for Everton is an honour and I want to help the club go a long way. “We have got a lot of games coming up and we want to be playing in four tournaments at the same time – but when your chance comes, you’ve got to take it. “I’m looking forward to next week and another win would keep us top of that table and help our confidence grow even more.”
Louis Saha is ready to weigh in with more goals for Everton
Sept 25 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PRE-SEASON training is often the dullest and most difficult part of a footballer’s year but, every so often, somebody will come along to change that. Those who were around Everton’s squad during their build up for the new campaign will testify to that after one man’s efforts in a session at Finch Farm, shortly before they jetted out to America, took the breath away. The session in question saw Louis Saha give a demonstration in the art of being a world class striker, scoring goals with his right foot, left foot and head, turning defenders inside and out before overpowering them.
Every shot that hit the target brought whoops of delight from onlookers and drew constant applause from his team-mates. After he had finished, David Moyes revealed that it was possibly the best centre-forward play he had ever seen. With that in mind, it should not surprise that Saha has started the season in such terrific form, rifling six goals in as many games to fire thoughts that he might become the first Everton hitman since Gary Lineker in 1986 to score more than 20 in the league. What will surprise, though, is the fact that in 35 appearances for Everton, the only times Saha has scored away from Goodison Park were at Upton Park last November and, of course, at Wembley Stadium in the FA Cup final. It is not a glitch that is causing the Frenchman to lose any sleep, however, and if he maintains his impressive recent standards, it will surely only be a matter of time before the goals start flowing on the road, too.
Where better to start than at Portsmouth tomorrow? Paul Hart’s side may have got a morale-boosting win in a Carling Cup tie at Carlisle in midweek but a poor start to Premier League affairs means Everton will be favourites to win at Fratton Park.
The same was said when the teams last met in March but things have changed since then and with an inviting run of fixtures looming on the horizon, Saha hopes the 3-0 dismissal of Blackburn Rovers last Sunday is the catalyst for a winning spree.
“We are starting to feel much more confident,” said Saha, who was given a well-earned standing ovation when he was substituted following his double against Sam Allardyce’s men. “The only regret we have is that we didn’t get the momentum going earlier. “We worked really hard in pre-season and we all wanted to be as fit as possible. It took quite some time to get everything done the right way but now you can see we are starting to look the way that we want to. “The two games we played last week were a good way of getting everything together. We had a defeat against Fulham – I didn’t think we deserved to lose – but it was so good that we had two important games straight away to get going quick again. It happens. “I’m very happy with how things are going for me. I’m not someone who concentrates on the number of goals I have scored, I just make sure that my performances are the best they can be and, right now, things are going well. “Just scoring goals at Goodison is just one of those things – we have got great fans here and maybe that’s why it is so good for me. “Perhaps some people will say that I need to score more away from home but I know they will come. But it’s not just about me. “We have got so many players who can score goals, I am simply happy to be part of it all. We have got four games in a row against teams who we should be looking to beat and that is why it is important we grab the points when we can.”It is fitting that Saha – who was rested for Wednesday night’s stroll at Hull – is looking to the future, as reflecting on the past would mean having to talk about the injuries which have proven so frustrating during his career. But a raft of hard work, happily, has turned the tide; aside from taking part in all the sessions Moyes has put on since the first week of July, Saha has returned to France twice for extra-curricular work and the benefits are there for all to see. “The one thing I have noticed with Louis, going back to the last three months of last season and all of this one, is his capacity to do the extra work – and train every single day,” explained assistant manager Steve Round. “He trains ever so hard. He does his work pre-training, post training and when the others are on international breaks, he goes to a training camp in France and trains for four or five days with a specialist. “There is a real resolve about him to try and prove that he can play at the highest level but, more importantly, play regularly; he has got that sort of determination about him and, touch wood, it will continue. “We are going to have to be a little bit mindful of not playing him in every game; we have got a lot of three game weeks coming up and if we played him in all of those, you would take away his freshness and sharpness.” Clearly there is much to be said for a gruelling pre-season with Moyes and though it might have been an eye-opening experience at times, if Saha is still scoring regularly and moving freely come spring time, there will be no complaints. “I don’t think Louis knew what had hit him,” said Round. “He was running around a golf course in St Andrew’s Bay at 7.30am, which was part of his four sessions in a day, but he did it and he never complained once. “He is a good trainer and a special player. There are times when we will have to ease him out. But his self esteem is good and he is confident he can cope with this workload.”
Goodison’s latest Toffee Lady – Elizabeth France
Sep 25 2009 Liverpool Echo
BEHIND every great man lies a great woman.
And the inspiration behind the man who collected much of the Everton Collection is Elizabeth France. Her travails as her husband David put together a collection of memorabilia described by Sotheby’s as: “having no match anywhere in the football world” have been chronicled in the celebratory volume “Dr France’s Magnificent Obssession. “Liz used to rummage through my swag,” wrote David. “I clearly remember one occasion when she examined an old England shirt which had been worn by Tommy Lawton. “The bottom third of the white shirt had changed to a pale blue, obvious evidence of torrential rain during the game and that the old cotton shorts were not colour-fast. “She was far from impressed by this treasure even though her mother had been a school friend of the Everton and England legend. Then she turned to the leather-bound ledgers and proffered the niggling question: ‘How much this time?’ “I glanced towards her and proudly announced: ‘They were a real bargain – only £78,000!’ “Liz screamed: ‘Stop the car and take them back!’ “The frost didn’t thaw until the final whistle at Wembley Stadium several days later. And just as Dave Watson was about to lift the FA Cup to our mutual delight, she whispered: ‘Keep the old books but take that grubby shirt back!’” That is the only recorded instance of Elizabeth complaining about her husband spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on securing Everton’s history. Elizabeth was at the Picton Library last night to witness the official unveiling of the Everton Collection – which includes Alan Ball’s famous white boots. In her husband’s absence, she would chat at length with legends like Ball – who often referred to her as “the other good thing from Farnworth.”
Health Secretary’s debt lof thanks to Dr Everton
Sep 25 2009 Liverpool Echo
THE Everton Collection was unveiled at Liverpool Central Library last night by Health Secretary Andy Burnham. And the lifelong Evertonian offered a debt of thanks to fellow Blue David France for his work in putting together the incredible collection of football artefacts. “Thanks to David France the story of the heart and soul of our club has been brought together,” he said. “We all owe you a huge debt of thanks for the passion and the meticulousness with which you have prepared this wonderful collection.” The Health Secretary joined famous Evertonians Joe Royle, Duncan McKenzie, John Bailey and Barry Horne – plus current star Dan Gosling, at the launch. And he added: “The difficulty I’ve got is that I’m Secretary of State for Health and I’m a lifelong Evertonian – and they’re not very good for your health half the time! “But it’s a wonderful privilege for me to be here because it’s occasions like this when our club, with its rich history, gets the attention it richly deserves. “I can confidently say I am the first Secretary of State for Health who had a world health pandemic declared on day three of the job! “I was giving my first report to cabinet when somebody interrupted to say: ‘You see Gordon. This is the luck you get when you have an Evertonian in that job!’ “As far as I am concerned being an Evertonian is all about the ups and downs of life. We have the lows but we’ve had the highs too.
“I will never ever forget sitting in the Royal Box in the first minute of the FA Cup final 2009. Shame about the other 89 minutes but my God I’ll never forget that first minute!” “We are the first club to be first to do so many things and if you come here you will learn about the history of professional football and its development, and through that the social history of our country. “You will learn about the history of this wonderful city – and its original club!”
Everton FC today demanded an apology from El-Hadji Diouf for his banana throwing claims
Sept 25 2009 by Luke Traynor, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today demanded an apology from footballer El-Hadji Diouf for making “groundless racist slurs.” The Blues moved to “set the record straight” following the row which erupted at Goodison on Sunday. Blackburn forward Diouf accused Everton fans of throwing bananas at him during the game. His surprise allegations followed Merseyside Police confirming they were probing an allegation that the Senegalese player had told a Blues ball boy, 14, to ‘**** off , white boy!’ when the youngster threw the ball to him during the match. As police reiterated that they were not investigating any Everton fans about the banana claims the club called on the footballer to make an immediate retraction. No bananas were found following a search near the corner flag area of the Gwladys Street end and no cameras picked up any evidence of fruit throwing.When police interview Diouf in person when they will discuss the circumstances of the banana throwing claims which provoked such a strong response from the Blues. Ian Ross, Everton spokesman told Talksport radio: “What angered us here at Everton are the allegations made by Mr Diouf, in which he claimed he was ‘showered with bananas’ by Everton supporters. “That is a wholly false allegation and I really would like him to retract that allegation and apologise to this football club.”
Phil Jagielka guarenteed Everton FC support after knife robbery
Sept 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT takes a really brave man to enter someone’s house, wearing a ski mask and brandishing a knife, backed up by a team of similarly abhorrent, sinister individuals.
Poor Phil Jagielka. We cannot begin to imagine the ordeal he was subjected to on Wednesday evening, when he found himself confronted by a gang of cowards intent on pilfering anything they could But we can only be thankful that his wife, Emily, and their young children were not in his home at the time when a gang burst through his front doors, seemingly believing that the England international was away on duty.
“I’ve spoken to Phil and he is very shaken, as anyone would be if it happened to them” said David Moyes. “It’s a worry and it is something that should be looked at by the police and other people in charge.” It certainly is a worry. That the ever-amiable Jagielka finds his name added to a growing list of North West-based Premier League footballers, who have been the victims of shocking burglaries, will leave their many colleagues shaking with apprehension. We can only hope this is the last kind of ordeal we hear about and those responsible for the crime are caught and receive an appropriate punishment; if it’s any consolation, Jagielka will be given all the support he needs to get over the affair at Goodison Park.
FA should look to act against El Hadji Diouf’s racism claims
Sept 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
NO complaint to Merseyside Police and no photographic evidence but still no retraction or apology from El-Hadji Diouf. If the Blackburn striker’s accusation that Everton fans “threw bananas” at him wasn’t so serious, it would border on laughable as there was absolutely no sign of such an incident occurring at Goodison Park last Sunday. Had Diouf levelled such a scurrilous charge at one individual but was proven to be wrong, he would face a substantial libel claim; if and when his “bananas” claim is discredited, the FA should be looking to heavily reprimand him.
Phil Jagielka guarenteed Everton FC support after knife robbery
IT takes a really brave man to enter someone’s house, wearing a ski mask and brandishing a knife, backed up by a team of similarly abhorrent, sinister individuals.
Poor Phil Jagielka. We cannot begin to imagine the ordeal he was subjected to on Wednesday evening, when he found himself confronted by a gang of cowards intent on pilfering anything they could. But we can only be thankful that his wife, Emily, and their young children were not in his home at the time when a gang burst through his front doors, seemingly believing that the England international was away on duty.
“I’ve spoken to Phil and he is very shaken, as anyone would be if it happened to them” said David Moyes. “It’s a worry and it is something that should be looked at by the police and other people in charge.” It certainly is a worry. That the ever-amiable Jagielka finds his name added to a growing list of North West-based Premier League footballers, who have been the victims of shocking burglaries, will leave their many colleagues shaking with apprehension. We can only hope this is the last kind of ordeal we hear about and those responsible for the crime are caught and receive an appropriate punishment; if it’s any consolation, Jagielka will be given all the support he needs to get over the affair at Goodison Park.
Everton boss David Moyes backs Paul Hart to keep Portsmouth afloat
Sep 26 2009
Paul Hart to steer Portsmouth out of trouble after Everton condemned the Barclays Premier League’s bottom club to a seventh successive defeat. French striker Louis Saha struck in the 42nd minute to stretch Everton’s winning run to four matches but the visitors rode their luck, especially in the second half. Pompey missed a host of chances and remain anchored to the foot of the table after suffering the worst start in Premier League history. But Moyes has backed Pompey to turn their season around and said: “Paul is doing a great job. His squad was only put together at the last minute and he had a lot of things taken away from him. “You could see the attitude of his players - they gave him everything right until the last minute. “It’s also good to see how the supporters backed their team today. “Portsmouth are only seven games into the season and football changes around very quickly.” Pompey created enough chances to win the match several times over with Aaron Mokoena hitting the crossbar, Tal Ben Haim failing from point-blank range and Hassan Yebda seeing his effort cleared off the line. Hart believes it is only a matter of time until they start climbing the table. “We played tremendously well, creating really good chances in the first half and in the second we should have scored,” said Hart. “But with a spirit and performance like that, I thought the players were fantastic. “We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot but if we retain that spirit and continue to work like that we’ll turn it around. “The players have been excellent and I don’t see any reason why they won’t keep that going.” Hart was unhappy with the defending of Younes Kaboul, who allowed Saha to beat him to John Heitinga’s long-range cross before the Frenchman drilled home a clinical finish. “It wasn’t great play from Everton. If the ball travels 40 yards it should be dealt with,” he said. “Defensively we were generally very sound and our forward play was magnificent. Kevin-Prince Boateng was magnificent.
“We created many chances and should have finished better.” It was Saha’s seventh goal of the campaign and Moyes was delighted with his contribution. “Louis himself is the reason he’s got going so well,” he said “He’s worked really hard, looked after himself during the summer and his goals are reward for the effort he has put in.
“He’s done really well so far this season and I think there’s more goals to come from him.” Moyes added: “We came under a lot of pressure which was to be expected.
“But I’m really pleased at the way we handled it and came out in the end. A 1-0 would have done me before the game. “I would have liked to have won in better style but I’m happy with the three points. “I’m fairly pleased with our run. We can play much better and haven’t hit the form I’d expect us to. We can play far better. “But if you keep clean sheets you have a lot better chance of winning.”
Everton FC manager David Moyes praises Sylvain Distin's start with Blues
Sept 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES today hailed Sylvain Distin’s commanding start to life as an Everton player as he prepares to make his first return to Portsmouth. The French central defender was signed in the wake of Joleon Lescott’s move to Manchester City but has slipped effortlessly into the role following his £5.5m move. Distin impressed on his debut in the 2-1 win over Wigan and has followed that up by scoring his first goal for the Blues – against AEK Athens – and helping keep three clean sheets. But it is the way he has marshalled Everton’s defence that has struck a chord with Moyes and now his manager is looking for Distin to play a part in another shutout at Fratton Park.
“We have been pleased with Sylvain,” said Moyes. “It has been a good move for us and for him. It’s never easy to move to a new club, but he plays like he has been here for two years. “He’ll probably find things slightly different here at Everton, but I hope he will think it’s a good move for him at this stage of his career. “He has the experience in the Premier League to be able to go straight into the team. He understands what is required in the Premier League. “With new players, such as John Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, you are never quite sure what they will be like.
“But because Sylvain has the experience, as a manager you feel more secure putting him in. Sylvain will have come here and seen a settled side and a settled club.
“Prior to this season, Portsmouth have been relatively settled and it’s only in the last six months there has been upheaval.” During his spell on the south coast, Distin helped Pompey win the FA Cup but since that day at Wembley, there has been a dramatic change in their fortunes. They go into the lunchtime fixture having lost all six of their Premier League fixtures and Distin is unsure what kind of reception he will receive. “It was a difficult situation for the players and it’s very difficult not to be affected by what happened to the club,” said Distin. “But you have to perform on the pitch no matter what happens, or you make the situation even worse. And that’s what we tried to do. “We had admitted that we didn’t really have enough players, but now they've got lots more, so it should be good for them. I would like them to stay in the Premier League.” Everton, meanwhile, will only be without Louis Saha for next Thursday’s trip to Belarus after UEFA decided not to extend his European ban.
Saha was sent off in injury time during the 4-0 win over AEK Athens but after studying evidence of his tangle with defender Juanfran, UEFA deemed one-match to be a sufficient punishment. Meanwhile, Portsmouth boss Paul Hart says he does not fear for his job, despite his side’s woeful start to their Premier League campaign.
Hart has been made the bookmakers’ favourite to be the next Premier League manager relieved of his duties ahead of his side’s home clash with Everton. But when asked if he felt under pressure, the former Nottingham Forest manager said: “From what? Pressure to get the results – I want to get a result. That’s what I’m about.
“What have I got to fear? I know what I do day in, day out and I have no fears about that. “It’s not me that’s going to make decisions like that and it’s not something I think about every waking hour. “I’m not an owner. I’m a manager, a coach and that’s what my job is.” He added: “There were a number of names touted around that were going to take the manager’s job on, but there’s only me here. “I’m still here, I’m still backing the club and I think we can turn it around. I’m the man for the job.”
Leon Osman puts Everton FC doubters in their place
Sep 26 2009 Liverpool Echo
FUNNY how quickly things can change: Leon Osman’s starting place was in danger last month but an impressive week means it is now one of the most secure in Everton’s team. When David Moyes recruited Diniyar Bilyaletdinov shortly before the transfer window closed, it was widely assumed that Osman, so long one of Moyes’ trusted lieutenants, would be the man to make way in a re-shaped midfield.
The theory suggested that Steven Pienaar would switch to the right, Bilyaletdinov would slot in on the left and the three places in the middle would go to Phil Neville, Tim Cahill or Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell. With his form dipping and him failing to influence games in those difficult opening weeks, it was not a surprise that Moyes decided to drop him to the bench for the recent fixture against AEK Athens.
That, for certain observers, was a signal that the beginning of the end had started but it is dangerous to make assumptions about any footballer, not least one that has battled back from long-term injuries to forge a successful Premier League career.
So it should come as no surprise that Osman has responded in such an encouraging manner, sparkling in the 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers last Sunday before starting and scoring when captaining the Blues to a 4-0 victory at Hull in midweek.
Though it is not uncommon for some players to sulk when new faces are signed, their noses put out of joint by the thought of competition, Osman is a different character and, as he prepares to face Portsmouth today, is in a positive frame of mind.
“Everyone needs competition and we all know that means we will get games,” said Osman. “Personally, I’ve just worked as hard as I have always done but it’s been nice that I have managed to perform in the last two matches. “But of course you want quality players to come to the club. Everybody in this squad welcomes the arrival of a good player and it doesn’t matter what there position is; we want that competition to carry us forward. “When you look back a couple of years, it’s clear to see we really needed it, too. We would get to the point after we had been playing well when things would just fall off. Now, though, the manager has a chance to keep that freshness.
“If that keeps us towards the top of the table, all the better. We’ve made changes in the last three games and got some great results. If we can keep doing that, it is going to be a very good season.” And, of course, a very good season will mean a hectic workload. Another international break might be looming but there are another three games to play before that and until Christmas three games a week will become a common theme. Hard work, however, is not something that bothers Moyes’ players and as far as Osman is concerned, it is a case of ‘the more, the merrier’ – after a hat-trick of impressive results, the former Academy graduate is hoping for a similarly fruitful seven days. “The season has been transformed and that is all down to the amount of games we have been playing,” said Osman. “If we had been in the position where we played once a week and had ages to mope around on a bad result, it would have been terrible. “We’d have been shuffling around the training ground, dwelling on things like bad results, but that has not been the case since we played AEK and the three results we have had so quickly have done us the world of good.
“We are in a position now where we can keep looking ahead and building quickly; if you get a bad result, you know that three, four or five days later there will be a chance to put that behind you. “We are reaping the rewards for a lot of hard work. We’ve had a couple of tough weeks but it’s not just down to the starting line-up; everyone in their entire squad is playing their part and we want to keep this run going.”
Moyes will make changes at Fratton Park to the side that beat Hull so convincingly on Wednesday night but how many depends on whether Joseph Yobo and Steven Pienaar pass morning fitness tests. Whatever side Moyes names, Everton will be hot favourites to extend Portsmouth’s miserable start to the campaign but Osman has promised there will be no complacency against opponents who have been in freefall since winning the FA Cup in 2008. “We won’t take anything for granted,” said Osman. “They have had a bad record at the start of the season but records are there to be broken and we don’t want to be the team they change that against.” Whether Osman keeps the armband he wore so proudly at The KC Stadium will be determined by Yobo’s fitness but Moyes will have no qualms about making a man he calls ‘part of the bricks’ – he has been at Goodison that long – skipper again. “I said the other week that if someone became captain, I wanted to see them show it – Ossie certainly did that on Wednesday,” said Moyes. “He wanted to show he was proud to be in that position. “I thought because of that his performance rose. It was the same for Joe and he has come up with a couple of goals. What I have asked for, I am seeing.”
Transfer pain proves to be Everton FC blessing
Sept 26 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
KYLE NAUGHTON, Fabian Delph, Rasmus Elm and Philippe Senderos with Joleon Lescott? Or Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Sylvain Distin, John Heitinga and Lucas Neill without Lescott? Three games, six days and 11 goals have dramatically altered the landscape of Everton’s season and perhaps now is as good a time as any to reflect on the club’s summer dealings in the transfer market. There is no doubt it has been Everton’s good fortune to come up against teams in the past week who have no claims to being top class, but here’s something to ponder – would results have been as impressive had the first four named players been recruited? Unlikely. While David Moyes was right to do everything in his power to hang on to a defender as good as Lescott – and to pursue players with potential – occasionally a club needs to wave goodbye to a major asset to take the next leap forward. Everything happens for a reason and maybe Naughton’s decision to choose Tottenham, Leeds United’s refusal to do business with any club other than Aston Villa for Delph, Elm’s dillydallying and Senderos playing poorly for Switzerland were to Everton’s advantage. Of course, it didn’t seem that way at the time. There was enormous frustration when Naughton and Sheffield United staged an about turn and he ended up moving to White Hart Lane – it was a decision that enraged those officials who had been working on the deal.
But had he arrived on Merseyside, £5m of the initial transfer kitty would have been swallowed up and that, in all likelihood, would have scuppered the chances of doing a £9m deal to bring Bilyaletdinov – such a bright, inventive player –to the club.
And had Elm been recruited, Bilyaletdinov would most certainly have ended up staying in Russia – the Swedish midfielder was given a tour of Finch Farm in the middle of July but simply could not make his mind up on whether he wanted to join the Blues. At the time, things looked bleak for Everton, particularly as their rivals were busy recruiting, but once Lescott’s head was turned by Manchester City the wheels were set in motion for the club to take decisive action. Though you could never describe the process as quick – it was far from ideal to see Everton involved in another frantic, last-gasp recruitment drive – once again it looks as if it will end up paying long-term dividends.
Moyes has been criticised in the past for spending too long deliberating over potential signings but, if you look back at his record over the last four years, you can see that he has picked the right target 99 times out of 100.
Bilyaletdinov, Distin and Heitinga might have arrived in haste but they were not names that were plucked out of the air, as the clock was ticking down towards 5pm on September 1 – they had all been watched on numerous occasions. It is, in all probability, true to say that they would not be Everton players if City had not stumped up such a hefty fee to land Lescott – Bilyaletdinov may have joined on loan at some point – but now the silver lining is emerging from behind that cloud. Had City not shown an interest in Lescott, he would undoubtedly have continued to be a huge player for Everton and the Blues would have ticked along quite comfortably with him in the middle of their defence. Naughton would, in time, have flourished, while the way Martin O’Neill has been enthusing about Delph in the opening weeks suggests that he has the potential to become a leading light in the Premier League – only time will tell whether Villa’s manager is right. To go forward this season, however, Everton needed players who could do it in the here and now but they wouldn’t have been able to sign those individuals without a big influx of cash from somewhere; thankfully it came. Heitinga has impressed, Distin looks as if he has been at Goodison all his life, Neill is sure to make a contribution, while Bilyaletdinov’s tally of four assists already will only increase. Clear to see, then, that selling Lescott was the right thing to do.
El Hadji Diouf’s protest is just bananas says Barry Horne
Sep 26 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
PREMIER League football regularly comes in for all manner of criticism, whether it be the style of play, state of its administration or the behaviour of players.
But I was in Australia in the summer where what many people believe to be their national sport, rugby league, is in a terrible state. In America there are regular stories of drug abuse in many sports, as there are in professional cycling. There are betting scandals in the Far East , ‘Bloodgate’ in rugby union, ‘Crashgate’ in motor racing and ‘Is it a man or a woman-gate’ in athletics. Yes, there is always room for improvement in the administration of football and in the behaviour of players, but generally it’s as clean and as close to the true spirit of competition as any sport in the world.
I was involved professionally for nearly two decades and have been involved peripherally since I retired – and I can honestly say I have never come across a player who has taken performance enhancing drugs or not tried his best in any game.
Having said that, one area of the game which could certainly stand improvement is the old fashioned principle of taking defeat on the chin. Mark Hughes is a man who I played with for many years and admire greatly, but he hasn’t done himself any favours by quibbling over what amounted to a second or two at the end of the recent Manchester derby. What happened to the schoolboy principle of playing to the whistle – especially the final whistle? The most ridiculous assertion, however, I have saved until last. Ridiculous, but not in any shape or form funny. I was on the gantry when Blackburn’s El Hadji Diouf launched into a protest with a linesman at Goodison.
The incident was instantly replayed many times – and having seen the incident with my own eyes, then again several times afterwards from every conceivable angle, it was quite clear there was a total absence of bananas. In fact there was an absence of anything thrown apart from one small piece of chewing gum which hit the pitch.
El Hadji Diouf is one of the least popular players at every ground in the country.
An old saying is that there’s no smoke without fire. While the striker’s statement is puzzling in the extreme, it is still potentially damaging to Everton. No matter how outrageous the statement, mud sticks. If Merseyside Police have spent any time investigating his accusations, then perhaps they should also charge him with wasting police time.
Goal glut gives Everton FC reason for confidence says Barry Horne
Sep 26 2009 by Barry Horne, Liverpool Echo
ON a brighter note, the recent resurgence of form at Everton, and the sudden glut of goals, has lifted all fans. Eleven unanswered goals in three games, albeit against limited opposition, is cause for celebration and a reason to look forward with confidence. The next four Premier League games could now set the tone for the rest of the season. Steven Pienaar, Jack Rodwell, Louis Saha et al continue to inspire their team as we saw against Blackburn last weekend. After Portsmouth today, we face home games against Stoke and Wolves and a trip to Bolton. A return of 12 points out of 12, by no means beyond the stretch of imagination, would put an entirely different complexion on Everton’s season
IT'S SEVEN AND HELL, POMPEY
26th September 2009 Daily Star
By Paul Merson
ROCK-BOTTOM Portsmouth WILL get relegated if they lose against Everton today.
I know it’s very early to be making such bold predictions – but that’s how I feel about what’s happening at Fratton Park at the moment. I honestly can’t see them getting out of trouble if they lose at home to Everton. Losing seven out of seven will be too much for them. Tottenham had a poor start last season, but I can’t see Portsmouth mirroring what Spurs achieved to avoid the drop. Harry Redknapp went out and bought some top players in Jermain Defoe, Wilson Palacios and Robbie Keane.
Unfortunately, Portsmouth can’t spend the sort of money Harry had available at White Hart Lane last season. The whole sorry situation at Pompey shows just how good a manager Harry is. We would be talking about him in the same way we do about Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger if one of the top clubs had taken a chance on him. When I joined Portsmouth, I didn’t know anything about the club – I joined because of Harry Redknapp. And with all due respect to current boss Paul Hart, he just doesn’t have the same pull that Harry has. that’s part of the problem, for the main reason Portsmouth are languishing is due to a lack of quality. If you look at the players they have brought to the club and the players they have let go since Harry’s move to Spurs, there’s just no comparison. Portsmouth had established themselves as a Premier League club – particularly after winning the FA Cup under Harry. It just goes to show how quickly things can turn around in football nowadays. Pompey had some really good players under Redknapp; Defoe, Peter Crouch and Sol Campbell to name but three. And with all due respect to players like Danny Webber and Tommy Smith, they just don’t match up to those who have left Fratton Park. Smith is a top Championship player – but can he cut in the Premier League? I’m not sure.
And Webber didn’t even have a club before joining Portsmouth, which says it all for me. Players like Jamie O’Hara and Michael Brown should prove to be good signings.
They should bring that steel and determination Pompey will need to drag themselves out of trouble. To get out of their predicament, they need to go on a run and put four or fi ve wins together. However, Portsmouth just don’t have the players to pull that off. Two seasons ago, you couldn’t get a ticket at Fratton Park for love nor money – and now it looks half empty. That’s because the supporters down there know their football and they recognise the standards set by Harry aren’t being lived up to. It’s such a diffi cult situation for Hart, and it’s hard not to feel sorry for him.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Paul and he is a good bloke, but it really is tough for him at the moment. On a positive note, there does seem to be some fight there, which is essential in a relegation dogfight. They showed signs of that in the 3-2 defeat against Bolton a couple of weeks ago, while the midweek Carling Cup win at Carlisle should give them some encouragement. But they have to stop conceding goals like they did against Aston Villa last week, because they were atrocious. If they don’t, they can kiss the Premier League goodbye.
BIG SAM: DIOUF'S IN THE CLEAR
26th September 2009 Daily Star
By Neil Johnston
SAM ALLARDYCE will throw El Hadji Diouf back on the Premier League stage against Aston Villa after insisting: “He’s not guilty.” Diouf is at the centre of a police probe for alleged racial abuse of a 14-year-old ball boy during Blackburn’s 3-0 defeat at Everton last Sunday. And he is also facing a probe into wasting police time over suggestions bananas were thrown at him at Goodison Park. However, allardyce insists the Senegal striker is innocent and will name him in his side to face Villa at Ewood Park. the Blackburn boss said: “as far as i’m concerned, Dioufy is 100 per cent fit to play in the game and is looking forward to it. “There is nothing wrong with him. He is as fit as a fiddle and played very well last Sunday. “Dioufy was one of the few players who performed to the level that the rest of the players should have done.
“The other situation is not a situation where Dioufy was the aggressor. “He wasn’t, but he’s being made out to be. it’s not a situation that would worry any of our players because they are not guilty.”
Portsmouth 0, Everton 1: full time report
Sep 26 2009
Louis Saha celebrates at Portsmouth 460
Louis Saha condemned Portsmouth to a seventh successive Barclays Premier League defeat in a pulsating showdown at Fratton Park. Saha struck his seventh goal of the season with a clinical finish which gave resurgent Everton a first-half lead they never relinquished. It extended the Toffees’ winning run to fourth matches - but the result was harsh on Portsmouth, who failed to take their chances once again. Superior for lengthy spells, they created a host of opportunities with Aaron Mokoena hitting the crossbar and Tal Ben Haim failing from point-blank range. Goalkeeper Tim Howard played a full part in frustrating Pompey, making several fine saves, but David Moyes’ side rode their luck at times and cleared two shots off the line. While Everton are heading up the table, crisis club Portsmouth are rooted to the bottom as the worst start in Premier League history continues unchecked. Fans started a chant of ’There’s only one Peter Storrie’ in response to reports the Pompey chief executive is on the brink of resigning. But the cries quickly petered out, as might Storrie’s reign at Fratton Park if he is not given the reassurances he seeks over the club’s financial position.
In a show of unity, Storrie took his place in the stands alongside new owner Sulaiman Al Fahim, who has promised to injected £50million over the next month.
Al Fahim has dismissed suggestions Pompey could be the first Premier League club to enter administration, but today’s outcome will have done little to lift the gloom at Fratton Park. There was little evidence of the boardroom uncertainty on the pitch where the home side were ambitious and incisive, setting the tone with a lively opening largely orchestrated by Kevin-Prince Boateng. The German created an early half-chance for Jamie O’Hara and then Tommy Smith, but both players were closed down quickly. He played another slick pass to Dindane and the Ivory Coast forward, making his Premier League debut, raced into the area only to scuff his shot while under pressure from John Heitinga. Showing greater intent in attack, Everton created a tricky chance when Steven Pienaar crossed for Tim Cahill - but the Australian glanced his header over the crossbar. Just as Everton seemed to be tightening the screw, Pompey broke free with some rapid passing through midfield. Smith threaded a perfectly-weighted ball into the area where Dindane, under pressure from Sylvain Distin, pulled the trigger - only for Tim Howard to produce a fine save.
It was then James’ turn to show his reflexes, the England veteran thrusting out a leg to block Fellaini’s header. Boateng managed to turn former Pompey defender Distin, who was frequently jeered by home fans, inside out but skied his shot having done the hard work. Chances were coming at both ends, but it was Everton who made the breakthrough when Saha found the net in the 42nd minute. The Frenchman beat Younes Kaboul in the air to head down a long, high ball by Heitinga and pounced, directing a strong finish past James. Pompey should have equalised five minutes into the second half but defender Tal Ben Haim, having slipped free to meet O’Hara’s free-kick, directed his header straight at Howard’s shoulder when the goal was at his mercy. Pienaar was derided by home fans for limping from the pitch following a tackle, returning moments later and then slumping to the floor once again. He was eventually carried off on a stretcher. Substitute Diniyar Bilyaletdinov floated a corner to the far post where Fellaini was denied by James and then Smith came to Pompey’s rescue by clearing Cahill’s effort off the line. Aaron Mokoena rattled the bar as Pompey searched bravely for the equaliser and they appeared to have snatched a point only for Leighton Baines to clear Hassan Yebda’s header off the line.
Boateng was denied by Howard four minutes into injury-time as Everton clung onto their lead.
SAHA GOAL PILES ON HART-ACHE FOR POMPEY
27th September 2009 Daily Star
By Peter White
YOU would have thought it was seven straight Premier League victories after Portsmouth trudged off to a standing ovation at Fratton Park. Instead it was their seventh league outing without so much as a point. Paul Hart’s patched-up side did more than enough to win but were out of luck as Louis Saha capitalised. The goal gave Everton a third straight league win and manager Davis Moyes insisted: “Louis has worked hard and his goals are reward for that effort.” Moyes accepted Everton were not at their best despite the victory. He added: “We have not hit the form I expected and we can play much better.” As for the plight of Pompey boss Paul Hart, Moyes said: “He has done a great job. The players gave him everything.” Hart refused to blame ill fortune for this latest setback, saying: “We played tremendously well and created enough chances to have won it. “The players were fantastic and if we retain that spirit it is inevitable that we will turn things round.” Much of the build-up play in the first half promised much but produced little. When Pompey moved forward there was energy and speed about much of their play. Dindane unleashed a shot that was pushed away by Tim Howard. Saha tried to make his mark up front for the visitors, who arrived on the back of three straight wins and 11 goals.
The Frenchman got into a couple of good positions but found himself crowded out by Pompey’s enthusiastic defence. But three minutes before the break Everton showed that route one is often the best option. From the half-way line John Heitinga smashed an angled pass to the edge of the area. Saha rose above Younes Kaboul to knock the ball down, then showed his goalscoring instincts by lashing a shot past David James.
Hart said: “If a ball travels 40 yards into our box we should have dealt with it.”
POMPEY 0 EVERTON 1
TOFFEES IN £45K DEAL FOR NEILL
27th September 2009 Daily Star
By Paul Hetherington
LUCAS NEILL has secured a £45,000-a-week deal at Goodison Park – and eased the concerns of some of Everton’s senior players. The word is that the Toffees’ dressing room feeling was the club weren’t offering high enough wages to attract players who would strengthen the squad. Influential players at Goodison were claiming clubs like Stoke and Hull were offering better terms. But former Blackburn and West Ham defender Neill, 31, turned down Hull and Wigan before signing for Everton.
His initial one-year deal will ensure he’s in good condition for Australia’s World Cup bid in South Africa next summer. He had been under fire Down Under for being without a club in an important season. Neill was delighted to sign for Everton boss David Moyes. But he did so after reducing his original wage target when he became a free agent on leaving West Ham. When Sunderland were interested, they were stunned to be asked for £85,000- a-week
Portsmouth 0, Everton 1: Fourth straight win shows Blues togetherness is stronger than ever
Sep 28 2009 by Chris Beesley, Liverpool Daily Post
SELLING your team’s best players is never nice for fans or managers – just ask Portsmouth – but coming back stronger in the face of adversity has become one of Everton’s greatest habits under David Moyes. Unlike the summer fire sale at Fratton Park which saw Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar, Sol Campbell and of course Sylvain Distin all scrambling for the exit door, several years of prudent team-building at Goodison ensured that when Moyes did decide to part with one of his prized assets – and only then on his terms because he felt the player’s attitude was having a detrimental affect on the squad – his team has come back more determined than ever. Everton’s fourth consecutive win and fourth consecutive clean sheet in the space of 10 days was wrapped up by Louis Saha in the first half at Fratton Park but Goodison revivals can be traced back much further than Saturday.
Five years ago, following Wayne Rooney’s defection to Manchester United, Everton, boosted by a great togetherness and a few new faces recorded their highest ever Premier League finish. The void up front also helped to cultivate the 4-4-1-1 formation which has served the club so effectively during Moyes’s reign.
Even last season when cruel injuries denied Everton the use of a recognised striker for prolonged periods of the campaign, the troops dug deep and made it to their first cup final in 14 years, never complaining about the cruel hand that fate had dealt them.
And now, as the dust settles on the aftermath of Joleon Lescott’s departure to Manchester City, it looks yet again that a new, even stronger Everton could be emerging. Despite Lescott’s undoubted talents – three mostly superb years of service at Goodison before he unfortunately blotted his copybook – many observers struggled to work out just how, following consecutive fifth place finishes, Everton could improve this term. Before the England international’s departure there had been no major arrivals all summer but boosted by the funds generated from his sale, Moyes has been able to draft in a direct replacement who is also an experienced Premier League performer in Distin, two experienced internationals in Russia’s Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and John Heitinga of the Netherlands – with the latter capable of playing in at least three positions – and even another seasoned campaigner from English football’s top flight in Lucas Neill outside of the transfer window after another major setback due to captain Phil Neville’s injury. After years of having to make do and mend, Moyes suddenly has options and even considerable rotation of the squad has become a fairly seamless transition. Places are up for grabs, players are hungry for the jersey and the likes of Ayegbeni Yakubu and Neill can be gradually eased back to fitness rather than pushed in at the deep end. Compare this to the shambles at Portsmouth. The mass exodus over the close season left the club with barely 16 senior professionals on the playing staff at the start of the campaign and while Paul Hart’s men are playing with a lot of heart, the lack of quality amongst their ragtag bunch of journeymen and has-beens is showing in the Premier League table.
Such has been the rapid turnover of personnel in the Pompey side that players could be forgiven for not even knowing certain team-mates’ names. For most of a cagey first half, both sides were restricted to half-chances rather than clear-cut opportunities but Tim Cahill almost broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion with a speculative volley from over 30 yards out only for home keeper David James to gather the ball at the second attempt. At the other end, on-loan Ivorian frontman Aruna Dindane, who netted on his debut during the midweek in the Carling Cup victory at Carlisle, looked Portsmouth’s most potent threat and flashed a shot across goal from the inside left position after going past John Heitinga. He was then denied down the middle after shrugging off former Pompey skipper Sylvain Distin – roundly booed on his return to Fratton Park less than a month after departing – as Tim Howard parried away his powerfully-struck effort. Desperately scrapping for their first points of the campaign, the hosts’ blustery efforts remained blunted by Everton’s patient approach and the visitors continued to get closer to a breakthrough as Marouane Fellaini saw a close range header from Leon Osman’s right wing cross blocked on the line by James.
In the end it was predictably Everton’s man of the moment in front of goal Saha who found a way through three minutes before the interval with his seventh goal of the season after Heitinga had pushed forward from the right-back position.
The Dutch international delivered a lofted right wing cross into the Pompey area and a razor sharp Saha got between Younes Kaboul and Anthony Vanden Borre to meet the aerial delivery first and smashed the ball into the roof of James’s net. In a worryingly similar scenario to their previous Premier League away game at Fulham, Everton sat back on their lead in the second period, inviting the hosts on to them. A right wing cross from on-loan Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara was met by a thunderbolt header by Tal Ben Haim but fortunately for the visitors the effort was unwittingly deflected away by Tim Howard’s left shoulder. There were more injury worries for Moyes just before the hour mark as Steven Pienaar went down in great pain after being clattered by home captain Aaron Mokoena. Although the South African returned to the field following some treatment, he further incurred the wrath of an already unsympathetic home crowd by immediately collapsing in a heap on the pitch with a suspected ankle injury and was replaced on the left flank by Bilyaletdinov.
Everton had a couple of chances to wrap up the points but Marouane Fellaini had a header tipped over the bar by James while a Tim Cahill header was cleared off the line by Tommy Smith. From then on, the home side started to take the initiative and their fans screamed for a penalty following a clash between Heitinga and Kevin-Prince Boateng when a cross was whipped into the area by Vanden Borre but Alan Wiley was not interested. Mokoena rattled the Everton crossbar with a header only to be replaced by Hassan Yebda straight after with the Algerian substitute going even closer with a nodded effort which was cleared off the goal-line by Leighton Baines.
It might have ended up as backs to the wall stuff but Everton’s endeavour ensured they earned their luck on this occasion. Improvements will be needed against more gifted and confident opponents but post-Arsenal and post-Lescott, Moyes’s men have started to get the fundamentals right again.
Portsmouth FC 0 Everton FC 1: Dominic King's verdict
Sept 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
IT was the weekend when the predictable Premier League reminded us of its unpredictability but, happily for Evertonians, most things remain the same.
We were told heading into this latest round of fixtures that the top four would trample all over their opponents, score a glut of goals and maintain their stranglehold on the Champions League positions; in many ways, that was true. To everyone’s great relief, however, Wigan Athletic torpedoed Chelsea’s unblemished start to the campaign at The DW Stadium and, in the process, proved it is folly to assume that football is losing its ability to shock. From Everton’s perspective, though, there was nothing shocking about events at Fratton Park; having become masters at grinding out wins on their travels against teams they should beat, David Moyes and his players duly celebrated another successful away day. True, this was not a vintage Everton performance, crammed with slick passing and incisive movement; you might even be right to suggest that they will play better between now and next May and still end up losing. But while Portsmouth will feel exceptionally hard done to that their miserable start has now turned into the worst suffered by any club in the top flight for 79 years, it would do Everton a gross disservice to brand them lucky. There is nothing fortunate, you see, about being able to keep calm and focused while under intense pressure or having the ability to defend stoutly in the frantic final moments when your goal is under siege. So having had to take a back seat for six days while the attacking side of the team received the plaudits for embarking on a scoring spree, it is time for Everton’s defenders and goalkeeper to step forward and take a bow. Without clear heads and brave hearts, we would, in all probability, have been left to analyse a defeat today, as Portsmouth showed no signs of being a side that was struggling for confidence or form. Given noisy, constant backing from the rickety stands in this ramshackle, compact arena, Portsmouth did everything they could to blow Everton’s house down during 45 action-packed second-half minutes. That they didn’t was down to the brilliance of Tim Howard, the resilience of Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin and the resolve on the flanks of Leighton Baines – when the foundations are strong as this, collapses simply do not happen. As someone who plied his playing trade as a defender, the least you would expect from a side managed by Moyes is for them to be difficult to beat and Everton’s most successful seasons during his reign have been achieved with a raft of clean sheets. Reassuring to see, then, that normal service has been resumed in the last four matches and nobody has done more to make that happen than Howard, who continues to make the £3.5m it took to sign him one of the shrewdest pieces of business Moyes has ever done. His contribution to the win over Blackburn Rovers eight days ago did not go unnoticed – Howard made a crucial to stop with the game delicately poised at 1-0 – and he followed up with another typically doughty effort in the Carling Cup at Hull City. Some keepers might have switched off with their side 4-0 up and through to the next round but Howard continued to spring and jump around his area to keep his goal intact, a hallmark that only the very best have. This display was better again. He, quite simply, hates conceding goals; even during training sessions, if anyone in front of him drops their guard, Howard – one of the most placid, amiable people you could wish to meet – will berate them for putting him in an uncomfortable situation. A few tongue lashings were administered here but to see him flying off the handle is also a huge positive, as you know that means Howard is on top of his game and his levels of concentration are at their highest. Louis Saha’s clinically taken seventh goal of an increasingly fruitful season might have separated the teams at the final whistle but Howard’s saves from Aruna Dindane (late in the first half) and Kevin-Prince Boateng (in stoppage time) were just as crucial. There was also a block with his shoulder to keep Tal Ben Haim’s bullet header out, a moment which put the gloss on a personal performance that showed why he must be considered as one of the top two or three keepers in the Premier League. On the occasions when he was beaten, good fortune in the shape of the crossbar and terrier-like defending came to his rescue, not least when Baines, marshalling the near post like a sentry, stood firm on the line to nod Hassan Yebda’s header away to safety. Baines suggested in a recent interview that he “had no right whatsoever to be disappointed” about missing out on a call up to England’s squad for the World Cup qualifier against Croatia as his form “simply hadn’t been good enough”. Fast forward to the present and that, most definitely, is not the case; having shown on several occasions his ability to put a ball on sixpence in the last four games, here was a timely reminder of his defensive prowess. Scampering back to slide into tackles and linking intelligently with Distin, Baines was terrific and looked somewhere near last season’s best; should he maintain this groove, Fabio Capello will inevitably take another look at him. Fortunately, there was no sign of him, Howard, Yobo or Distin showing any signs of fatigue as, if they had, Portsmouth would surely have capitalised but that, most definitely, was not the case. Aside from the energetic Tim Cahill, there was little life in Everton’s midfield and Saha was starved of service, other than showing immaculate close control to bring down John Heitinga’s inviting 40-yard ball before smashing his shot past David James. It was a picture book finish to make the longest trek of the campaign worthwhile and one that has catapulted Everton back into the top ten; should they keep winning games in such fashion and defending so stoutly, the top six will be the next port of call.
Pompey 0 - Everton 1
Sept 28 2009 The Portsmouth news
By Jordan Cross
Pompey's season is fast turning into a story of if onlys.
But the Premier League doesn't have time for the kind of hard-luck tales we are seeing Paul Hart's side come up with on a weekly basis. If only the ball had not come off Bobby Zamora's backside on the opening day of the season. If only Lee Prob
disputed penalty up at Birmingham at the end of the Blues' first away day of the campaign. If only Matt Taylor had been pulled up for being offside in the build-up to Bolton's late winner earlier this month. If only Pompey had taken one of the host of gilt-edged chances which fell their way against an Everton side riding the crest of an in-form wave on Saturday. And if only Younes Kaboul dealt with a routine 40-yard angled ball into the penalty box for the goal which led to a plucky performance going unrewarded against the Toffees.The top flight of the English game is littered with the corpses of have-a-go sides who bravely fought against the odds, only to fall in the final reckoning. Think of West Brom footballing their way into the Championship last season, Sheffield United failing to win on the final day two years ago and West Ham learning how to win a football match way too late in the campaign back in 2003.
It is the Hammers' demise back then which should be the biggest cautionary tale for Hart's men. They lost just one of their final 11 games six years ago after pulling themselves together under Trevor Brooking, but still lost their fight for survival.
Pompey are hoping their host of bargain-basement arrivals will gel over the second half of the campaign, but there are no guarantees it will be enough even if they do.
It was clear enough from Saturday's display, against an outfit who have kept three clean sheets on the bounce and scored 11 goals in the process, that the team Hart has flung together at such short notice isn't actually too bad. Pompey played with an energy and endeavour which spoke of players committed to the cause and clearly believing they are good enough to stand toe-to-toe with a form side. It certainly wasn't stuff of a team who have broken just about every record going for nightmare starts to the season. The simple fact is, however, you just cannot carve out the opportunities which came the way of Premier League debutant Aruna Dindane, Tal Ben-Haim, Aaron Mokoena and Hassan Yebda and not take them. And you certainly can't expect to get away with not dealing with the most basic of long, hoisted balls into the box as a central defender. 'The sort of stuff you expect from a Championship side,' is how one respected former Pompey player put it. Hart has been spending time working with Ben-Haim on his headed clearances this week. Maybe Kaboul should start paying more attention. There was more than a slice of luck in the way Louis Saha took the ball down before dispatching an emphatic drive past David James for his 42nd-minute winner. But Kaboul has to be winning the header in that situation. Pure and simple. Pompey started brightly once again, but there was a sense of deja vu building as they failed to turn their enterprising play into something tangible.
And so it was to prove, when Saha bagged his goal after the outstanding Tim Howard had denied debut-boy Dindane after a lovely intricate threaded through-ball from Tommy Smith. The Blues continued to ask the questions after the break, when Ben-Haim found Howard's shoulder instead of the back of the net from another quality Jamie O'Hara delivery. Then it was the turn of Mokoena to play the fall guy as he somehow conspired to head off the bar from a couple of yards, after Smith had nodded O'Hara's corner back across the face of the Everton goal. The feeling, a recurring theme this season, was it wasn't going to be Pompey's day. And it was confirmed when Yebda's header was cleared off the line by Leighton Baines as Hart's side laid siege to the Everton goal in the final throes of the game. There was still time for the immaculate Howard to deny Prince Boateng before Alan Wiley called time on proceedings and condemned a battling side to their seventh-straight league defeat.
Pompey now become just the fourth team in history to have lost all of their seven opening games. Just one of those sides, Liverpool 100 years ago, managed to turn it around after a horrendous start and win their fight for survival. Hart remains insistent his men can do the same thing. And remarkably upbeat chief executive Peter Storrie spoke of hope for the future as he conducted an impromptu interview under the mock tudor facade on Frogmore Road after the game. What Sulaiman Al Fahim thinks of the whole situation and what he intends to do to remedy it became a tad clearer in the wake of his on-off meeting with the wonderfully named Pompey Virtual Alliance on Friday night. He swapped his replica shirt for a suit at the request of supporters on Saturday, but there is still some more convincing to be done. His promise of a cash injection only buys him time until he either does or doesn't deliver. Things off the pitch are looking up we are informed by Storrie and Al Fahim, and the applause which greeted Hart's deflated troops after the defeat told them supporters are happy with what they are seeing despite their struggles. But that applause doesn't put points on the board. And without those points there is only one place Pompey are going, hard-luck stories or not.
Everton FC can win ugly, says Leighton Baines
Sept 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
LEIGHTON BAINES today claimed Everton’s hopes of success will dramatically improve this season – especially if they master the art of winning ugly. The Blues capped a fruitful nine-day spell on Saturday by notching their fourth victory in as many games with a 1-0 win at Fratton Park against Portsmouth. But they only secured three points thanks to a resilient defensive display and were thankful that Portsmouth missed a couple of clear chances late on. It left Everton boss David Moyes claiming there is still much work to be done before his side are operating at their best and Baines agrees with the assessment. However, he was certainly not complaining that a less than fluent display secured maximum points – nor will he argue if they keep repeating the trick. “We’ve shown a lot of character to bounce back after what happened on the opening day and we have moved on considerably since then,” said Baines. “And what you always know about this team is that they will pull together; everyone will put a shift in and work hard and that’s why we’ve got another win.
“We dropped three points at Fratton Park last season after playing poorly but, this time, we haven’t played great but still won and that says something about us.
“If we are going to achieve anything this season, we need to win the games we don’t play well in, particularly away from home.” Everton now have an opportunity to catch their breath before making a long trip to Belarus on Wednesday and Moyes is likely to freshen his side up against Bate Borisov. Baines, though, is thriving at present and has reaped the benefits of playing so many matches in a short space of time.
Yet while he is satisfied with his own form, he is more concerned with the plight of the team in general and was thrilled that they took another step forward on the south coast. “It’s always hard work at Portsmouth and I don’t think I’ve ever been down to Fratton Park and walked away thinking we had it comfortable,” said Baines. “We knew it was going to be hard and for the majority of the second half, it was just like a defending session, so we were delighted with a clean sheet. “But we know that we have still got a lot of work to do, as we can’t afford to keep giving teams so many chances. “Saying that, we have done a lot of travelling in the past fortnight and I don’t think every player was at their freshest but the main thing was to get through it.
“We’ve done that, we’ve managed to get three more points and we’re climbing towards where we want to be.” Everton, meanwhile, will assess the extent of Steven Pienaar’s leg injury today; he left Fratton Park on crutches as a precaution following a heavy challenge by Aaron Mokoena. Moyes was unhappy with the tackle but nothing more sinister than heavy bruising is expected to come to light.
David Moyes says Everton FC are gaining momentum
Sept 28 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES has predicted his re-shaped Everton side will soon click into top gear after extending their winning sequence to four. The Blues endured a stumbling start to the new Premier League campaign after failing to sign anyone before the opening match against Arsenal and the saga that surrounded Joleon Lescott’s move to Manchester City. Since getting his squad together after the international break at the start of this month, Everton’s fortunes have been dramatically transformed thanks to four victories, 12 goals and four clean sheets. But Moyes believes there is plenty more to come from a side that is still finding its way and is confident that they will be producing performances far greater than the one which secured a 1-0 victory at Portsmouth on Saturday. “We’ve got a wee bit to go yet,” said Moyes. “We’re not quite the way I’d like us to be, but we’re beginning to grind out some results, which Everton have done over the years, and that’s given us the platform to go and play better. “If at the moment we’re having to grind them out a little bit, then I’ll take that. We’ve scored a lot of goals this week. “You don’t always keep scoring fours and threes so we had to do the other side against Portsmouth and dig in. “I think we can play much better and we haven’t hit the form I expect us to. We can play better but if you keep clean sheets you have a chance to win. “What you have to do is make sure you don’t concede goals and work from there.” If Moyes was happy with the efforts of his defence, he was also thrilled with the lethal contribution of Louis Saha; the Frenchman took his tally to seven in seven games and his manager thinks he could finish with a hefty final total in May. “Louis is the reason for Louis getting going,” said Moyes. “He has worked hard and looked after himself over the summer. His goals are the reward for the effort he has put in and there are more goals to come for him in the future. “He’s played in big games, so he’s undoubtedly a talent. The thing for me was to get him fit and to believing that he is fit, and can do it again. I think he’s done that. He’s enjoying himself as well. His goal was a brilliant finish from a brilliant (John Heitinga) pass.” Compared to last season, when there were many occasions that he couldn’t pick a recognised striker, Moyes is currently blessed with attacking options and he doesn’t mind being spoilt for choice. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got too many strikers,” said Moyes. “Not at all. Yak’s not quite fit yet but I would see him being ready to start regularly. So we’ve got to bring him on over the coming months. We want to be flexible and be able to play in different ways.
“We’ve got Brazilian Jo and I want to play him as well. With Tim Cahill too, there were periods in the first half when we were happy for him to roam up front and play alongside Louis. It’s just how we see it.”
Everton FC captain Phil Neville to comeback against Manchester United
Sept 29 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
PHIL NEVILLE was hoping for good news today – as David Moyes stepped up preparations for Everton’s trip into the unknown. Blues skipper Neville has been sidelined since tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the 2-1 defeat at Fulham on September 13. Neville at first seemed set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines - but scans a couple of days later revealed he did not need an operation to repair the damage. Neville, though still on crutches, has responded well to the first stages of treatment and is itching to move on to the next phase of his rehab programme. He will only know if that is possible after visiting a specialist in London.
But Neville – who hopes to be fully fit for the trip to Manchester United on November 21 – could be allowed to start cycling in the next few days. Moyes, though, is erring on the side of caution and has planned for life up until Christmas without his captain but his first priority is Thursday night’s game against Bate Borisov. Having won their opening Group I game 4-0 against AEK Athens, another positive result in Minsk would give Everton an outstanding chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
The prospect of playing three games a week will inevitably put a strain on his squad but Moyes has no intentions of grumbling. “We’re looking forward to it,” said Moyes.
“If you finish fifth you can’t complain about being in the Europa League. “ We’re delighted to be in it. Obviously we’d rather have a closer journey but it comes with the territory and we’ll try to do the best we can.” With Louis Saha set to serve a one-match ban, Moyes – who is awaiting an update on the injury that forced Steven Pienaar off at Portsmouth – has a dilemma who to play up front. Brazilian Jo has shown glimpses of finding his stride and that might be enough to see him win the nod over Ayegbeni Yakubu, who is still battling to recapture full fitness. “If we can get the ball to Yak in the box, we know that his history is of scoring goals,” said Moyes. “But maybe at the minute, we are not quite ready as a team that has that kind of player.
“By that I mean we need our centre forwards to contribute in other areas and in different ways. “Certainly, though, if there is someone you want the ball to fall to in the box, I think everyone would say Yak is that man.”
Everton FC manager David Moyes to choose when to play Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
Sept 29 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
DAVID MOYES is prepared to pick and choose the moments he will unleash Diniyar Bilyaletdinov – to maximise the Russian’s match-winning ability. Since joining Everton from Lokomotiv Moscow, Bilyaletdinov has only clocked up 38 minutes of Premier League action – the sum total of two substitute appearances in the wins over Wigan Athletic and Portsmouth. He has, though, started both cup games that Everton have played in the past fortnight and with Steven Pienaar a major doubt for Thursday night’s Europa League fixture in Belarus, Bilyaletdinov is likely to be thrust into action once again. The more sedate pace of continental football clearly suits the 24-year-old better at this fledgling stage of his Everton career but Moyes is confident that, Bilyaletdinov will prove to be just as effective in the domestic rough and tumble.
Moyes is prepared to let Bilyaletdinov spend a certain amount of time on the bench to study the way the English game is played – once he is up to speed, his manager is expecting the Russia international to prove a big hit. “I will be looking for the right opportunities and moments to use him,” said Moyes, who initially wanted to sign Bilyaletdinov during the January transfer window. “I want to bring him on and I want to get him into the side because we need him. “He has already made a contribution in the games that he has played and that makes me feel that he is going to really help the team. “His ability to deliver a ball could be a very valuable asset, as it is something we have lacked. Mikel (Arteta) had the ability to do that and we have missed that quality since he’s been out injured.” That ability to deliver a dead ball has already been seen, as two corners that were whipped deep to the back post with pace led to goals for Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin against AEK Athens, while he also teed up Pienaar to score the third in that 4-0 victory. Bilyaletdinov then followed that with two more assists as Everton beat Hull City by the same score in the Carling Cup – his deft ball set Ayegbeni Yakubu clear, while a precise free-kick was headed home by Jo – to show he will be a major asset. It will, undoubtedly, take time for him to become fully attuned to Everton’s style of play but his versatility and undoubted ability could see him blossom. “He has definitely got something about him and we have been really pleased with him – we just need to be careful with the speed of the game,” said Moyes, whose side will be seeking a fifth consecutive win when they lock horns with BATE Borisov in Minsk. “Diniyar is probably finding how we work over here just that little bit quicker to what he is used to, even if the style of the game in Russia is similar to the Premier League. “But he has had to get used to a new environment and get settled in; having said that, he’s done well in the two games he has started in the Europa League and the Carling Cup. The games are obviously a bit more fast and furious in the Premier League, certainly more so than the Europa League, but I think he is looking okay.” Bilyaletdinov has promised he won’t balk at the extra workload or the intensity of training and does not think he needs to change his outlook in order to become a success. “I have been told from a young age that if you work hard you will always achieve your ambitions,” he said. “It was always my ambition to play in England and I’m looking forward to help this team win some prizes.”
Nigel Martyn: Leighton Baines can still make England World Cup trip
Sep 29 2009 Liverpool Echo
IF you were in Fabio Capello’s position, knowing that your place at next summer’s World Cup finals was secure, what would you do? Would you use England’s final group games to hone the talents of the 11 men that would be expected to start the first match in South Africa? Or would you experiment and give some players on the fringe a chance to shine? Should Capello opt for the latter, he must give Leighton Baines an opportunity to see if he can carry his top class club form on to the biggest stage of all as, in my view, he’s playing well enough to book himself a ticket to the World Cup.
Ashley Cole is first choice and Wayne Bridge has long been his back up but Leighton is improving all the time; you can tell that he finally feels settled at Everton now after making a slow start. Perhaps it was a shock for him at first, seeing the standard that he had to play at, but as the team has improved, so has he and he has played a vital role in our recent turnaround in fortunes. His deliveries have been seen to great effect in a lot of games but at Portsmouth he gave everyone a timely reminder of how good a defender he is and it is encouraging to think that he is only going to get better.
Victory at Fratton Park put the gloss on nine perfect days – there is no other way to describe it when you win four matches on the spin – and showed Everton at their most organised and resilient. It might not have been a flashy performance but, given the way we defended, we ran out worthy winners and we can all confidently say the club is back on an even keel now after a testing summer. When you have a striker in the kind of form Louis Saha is enjoying and your defence is showing such miserly qualities, you have the recipe for success and I’ve no doubt the more games they play, the better Everton will become. And in Leighton Baines’ case, wouldn’t it be nice to think he might be asked to squeeze a couple more matches on top of his already crammed schedule? The next move, then, is down to Signor Capello.
Nigel Martyn: Tim Howard's debt to Everton goalkeeping coach Chris Woods
Sep 29 2009 Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD was deservedly showered with praise after his efforts on the south coast but he was just as quick to deflect it. It really struck a chord with me when Tim said that his form was down to the help he received from Chris Woods – a goalkeeping coach who he described as “one of the best in the world”.
Woodsy and I go back a long way and though he has been on the end of some serious banter from me, I would, in all seriousness, have to agree with everything that Tim says about my old mucker. When you are working with the same two or three players every day, it is difficult to keep putting on sessions that interest all involved yet Woodsy still manages to do that and squeezes extra improvement out of you.
But it’s not all laughing and joking; Chris is serious and doesn’t tolerate slacking. In many ways, he’s just as important to Everton as the man between the posts and it’s fitting that Tim made sure everyone became aware of his input.
Nigel Martyn: Everton FC strong enough to overcome BATE Borisov in Europa League
Sep 29 2009 Liverpool Echo
EUROPE comes back on the agenda on Thursday night and I would be very disappointed if we don’t maintain our position at the head of Group I. BATE Borisov are something of an unknown quantity and have recent Champions League experience but they were put in their place by Benfica and, fingers crossed, we will do the same.
To progress from these European groups, you need to be looking to win your games and pick up whatever you can on your travels but Everton are so organised and well drilled that journeys to far flung places shouldn’t daunt anyone. Winning four games on the spin has to give us great confidence and, with the greatest respect to BATE, I doubt they have the players to deal with the threat that we will be able to produce from all angles.
Blackburn Reserves 3, Everton Reserves 0: Lucas Neill boost but young Blues are beaten
Sep 30 2009 by Our Correspondent, Liverpool Echo
NEW BOY Lucas Neill played a full 90 minutes but Everton Reserves were beaten 3-0 by an experienced Blackburn Rovers side. The Australian may boast a wealth of experience but Rovers had no less than four full internationals in their ranks.
Two of them, Steven Reid and David Hoilett, put the visitors 2-0 up at the break before young Aaron Doran got the third from the spot in the second half.
Jose Baxter's early header was the closest the Blues came, with Rovers being reduced to ten men late on. Neill lined up at right-back and his completion of the entire match offers a boost to Everton ahead of Sunday's clash with Stoke at Goodison.
Everton's busy front pairing of Kieran Agard and Baxter kept Blackburn on their toes.
When Agard fed Adam Forshaw in the eighth minute the winger provided an excellent cross which the unmarked Baxter could only head wide from six yards out.
Midway through the opening period Agard burst down the right and won a corner from which Neill headed a presentable chance straight at the keeper. And just moments later the lively Agard was denied a penalty by referee Mr Bristow.
But on 35 minutes Blackburn's international players showed their quality when Reid played a one-two with Hoilett that perforated Everton's defence, with the Republic of Ireland man finishing low past Davies. And seconds before the break Hoilett doubled the lead with a simple tap-in. Centre halves Shane Duffy and Shkodran Mustafi tried to reduce the deficit and sub Lewis Codling had a couple of late efforts but Rovers were good value for their win – despite seeing Jordan Ramm sent off with 10 minutes left for a second yellow.
Everton FC goalkeeper Tim Howard hoping for fifth clean sheet in Europa Cup
Sept 30 2009 by Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
TIM HOWARD jetted out to Minsk today aiming for a famous five – but Everton have made their trip east without Steven Pienaar. The Blues have won their last four games without conceding a goal and their American goalkeeper has played a key role in that run of results. He was outstanding in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Portsmouth but he is not the type of player who will dwell on past achievements. That’s why Howard is desperate to extend his clean sheet sequence when Everton tackle BATE Borisov and help David Moyes’ squad strengthen their position in Group I. “The mantra around the club says if we stop the opposition scoring, we won’t be beaten,” said Howard, who has played every minute of every Everton game since January 8, 2008.
“We want to get another good result. Football is crazy and though the modern game is about scoring goals, we are determined to keep it air tight at the back. “When we do that, we give ourselves an unbelievable chance of winning games because we are really good at attacking set pieces. “If we keep things at bay, we always have a chance of nicking a goal and our strikers, particularly ‘King Louis’, have been our fire, so we want another blank” Everton, of course, will be without Saha tomorrow, as he serves a one-match ban after being sent-off in the 4-0 Europa League win over AEK Athens.
Pienaar will also miss out due to the knee injury he sustained at Fratton Park, while there is also a doubt of Leon Osman’s availability. Despite being without Pienaar, Howard has confidence Everton can maintain their winning streak and thinks they are getting back into a groove. “The wins are really important and the Europa League has been very good for us – two seasons ago, we kept going from strength to strength ,” said Howard. “We hope it continues to be a positive. We enjoy playing at the weekend, getting to a Thursday, coming back, having a few hours sleep then going again.” l Everton are hoping Mikel Arteta will be back “within weeks rather than months” after he underwent another operation on his injured knee three weeks ago.
Mikel Arteta 'weeks not months' away from Everton FC comeback
Sept 30 2009 by Nick Smith, Liverpool Echo
MIKEL ARTETA is closing in on his long-awaited Everton return. Head physio Mick Rathbone revealed the midfielder is “weeks not months” away from making a full recovery from his ruptured cruciate knee ligament. The Spaniard has not played since February, when he sustained the injury in the Blues’ 0-0 draw with Newcastle at St James’ Park. Arteta had an operation in Barcelona and was originally scheduled to be out for six months. But he suffered a minor setback in his recovery earlier this month when a slip in training aggravated a problem with his cartilage to send him back to the operating table. But Rathbone has now revealed that the recuperation from that fresh injury scare is bang on target. He said: “Mikel has had the stitches removed. A bit of the meniscus came free but he seems fine. “He is only seven-and-a-bit months post-op so you’ve got to be careful because these injuries take a long time to come back from.
“We have to take it on the chin and support Mikel but we are talking about a return to action for him in weeks not months.” Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar is almost certainly out of Everton’s Europa League clash with BATE Borisov tomorrow, but he is not expected to be in for a long spell on the sidelines. The midfielder picked up a knee injury in Saturday’s victory at Portsmouth, and has been on crutches since.
Everton’s medical team have assessed the injury and hope that it is just heavy bruising, but they plan further checks this week and will have a better idea of the injury when the bruising has reduced. Everton leave for Minsk today for the Group I showdown, and Pienaar is highly unlikely to be involved and may well also miss Sunday’s home league game with Stoke. Rathbone said: “There’s no timescale at the moment but hopefully it will only be something short-term. Steven took an almighty knock on the inside of the knee, so he is pretty sore. “There’s a lot of bruising and a lot of swelling around the area, so we’ve got him on crutches at the moment.”
Everton FC's £100,000 boost for Rhys Jones charity
Sep 30 2009 by Andrew Campbell, Liverpool Echo
EVERTON FC today announces a £100,000 boost for the ECHO’s Rhys Jones charity Liverpool Unites. The Goodison Park club will launch a new third kit as part of their commitment to helping children on Merseyside. The limited edition shirt – which will be individually boxed and presented with a certificate of authenticity – will be unveiled at a black tie dinner on October 29. Everton has nominated our children’s charity, set up in the wake of the murder of 11-year-old Rhys, as its charitable partner for 2009/10. Everton chief executive Robert Elstone, said: “The Liverpool Unites charity has done a fantastic job in our local community since it was launched.
“It has proved to be important for the people of Liverpool and it made perfect sense to us at Everton to link in our fundraising activity. “Everton and our retail partner Kitbag hope to raise well in excess of £100,000 between now and the end of the season and we look forward to working with Liverpool Unites alongside our own Everton Foundation to see the money invested in the right type of programmes.”
Rhys’s parents Stephen and Melanie Jones have given the new shirt their backing.
Stephen said: “I think it will be a really good way to raise money for Liverpool Unites. Rhys loved Everton, he always collected the kits and he would have been made up to have something like that.” Last year, the ECHO hit its £100,000 target towards building a community centre in Croxteth. Liverpool Unites continues to raise money to fund the centre and help other charities and community groups across Merseyside.
Tom Woolley from Liverpool Unites said: “Our ethos is that if people in our community can work together, we can help vulnerable children escape a future threatened with gun and knife crime. “This is a fantastic contribution from Everton and Kitbag, and we are proud to have this historic shirt associated with our charity.”
Members of the first team squad and past players will join more than 200 guests at Goodison Park to celebrate the launch of the club’s third kit for the 2009/10 campaign. Kitbag will provide “money can’t buy” prizes for the evening from partners such as Real Madrid. Ray Evans, MD of Kitbag, said: “We are going to bring all our expertise and contacts to support this worthy initiative and raise much needed funds to assist the charity achieve its goals. The dinner will be a fantastic occasion and will beas unique as the shirt itself.” The first release of the shirt will be Friday, October 30. It will only be available in the official Everton retail outlets or evertondirect.com
Tickets for the event are now on sale and are £950 for a table of 10. Individual tickets can also be purchased at £100 each. Call Tom Woolley on 0151-285 8400.
Everton FC defender Johnny Heitinga catching up with Premier League pace
Sept 30, 2009 by David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
JOHNNY HEITINGA has admitted his powers of concentration are being put to the test at Everton, as he tries to come to terms with the unrelenting pace of the English Premier League. The Dutch defender learned his trade at Ajax before a switch to La Liga with Atletico Madrid. But following his £6m move to the Premier League he has started three games, all won, without a goal being conceded. He admits, however, that the pace of the game has taken him by surprise. “It is tough when you see the speed of the game. You must concentrate the full 90 minutes and it is at a high speed,” he explained. “It is tough playing three games in one week but I am still standing! I am happy and I feel good at the moment. “The next game (on Thursday at BATE Borisov) I obviously can’t play in because I can’t play in Europe, but I would like to face Stoke at the weekend because I like to see the stadium full of Everton fans. On my last home game it was nice to see the supporters.” With Everton on a run of four wins and four clean sheets, Heitinga puts the winning sequence down to the growing confidence in the dressing room. He added: “We are fighting as a team. I think we train hard and you can see that this team plays well together. “The defence is strong but also the attackers want to help the defence which I think is good for the team and good for the rest of the season.”
Everton FC fans letters
Sep 30 2009 Liverpool Echo
Howard saved us at Portsmouth
TIM HOWARD was Man of the Match for Everton against Portsmouth on Saturday. It says it all really – no disrespect to Portsmouth, but we’ve got the players to put a few past them. I’d love David Moyes to let the players off the leash. I had visions of Fulham a couple of weeks ago in the second half – we sat back (again) and invited Pompey onto us. But for some good keeping by Howard we’d have got webbed.
I’m still made up we got the three points though.
Shoulder save was great
THAT was a great save by Tim Howard with his shoulder.
Yes, it was lucky the ball came at him but still a good instinctive reaction.
Defenders deserve praise too
TIM Howard’s performance against Portsmouth has been blown out of all context.
He made a few great saves, but if it wasn’t for Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin in front of him he would not have looked half as good on Saturday. Howard’s a good keeper, but not a great one.
Pompey were better than I thought
THE three points against Portsmouth were very welcome but I was very concerned the way the home side battered us at times. Pompey, who should be so low on confidence, should be put to the sword really by a team which is supposedly flying high with 11 goals in three games. Johnny Heitinga had a shocker. If that is a sign of things to come, then Tony Hibbert may be back before we know it. Louis Saha was class – he looked a top player and Tim Howard was solid but apart from those two, who else had a good game?
Stylish wins not always possible
WE would all love to see the Blues win in style but it can’t always be the case.
Saturday’s game is a case in point. Pompey will play worse than this and win and deserved at least a point. Remember we are still in transition from our best players being out so a lot of credit is due to the lads’ fighting spirit. Keep the faith
It takes time
THE fitness of new players is always a problem for the coaching staff so let us reserve comment about the poor performance as a group at Portsmouth. Central defence including a sparkling goalkeeping performance got us the points along with world class Louis Saha who can make something from nothing. The only decent right full-back performance seen this season has been by young Dan Gosling. I would put him in there again until we can get Lucas Neill match fit. At least we know he can play there. Johnny Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will need time to adapt. I only hope we didn’t use up a full season’s worth of luck at Portsmouth.
Osman still doubtful
SO Dominic King says Leon Osman’s last couple of performances have silenced the doubters? Scoring a two yard tap in against the worst side to play in the Premier League and he’ s back to his ‘brilliant best?’ Well I’m sorry Mr King, I am still a doubter and I have watched Everton Football Club for 40 years. I have never seen a weaker player play for or against Everton Football Club. He gives you absolutely nothing. Tommy Wright and Gary Stevens would have struggled to win a single England cap playing behind this player. Ask yourself one question, Dominic. Would Leon Osman get into any of the teams above us in the Premier League? The answer is ‘no’. Which is why I am still a doubter, and far from silent.
David Unsworth joins Preston North End, with one eye on Everton FC manager role
Sep 30 2009 Liverpool Echo
DAVID UNSWORTH has taken the first step on a road he hopes will ultimately lead to the hot seat at Everton. The former Goodison defender has been added to the Preston North End coaching staff – and he is delighted with the appointment.
Unsworth, who has never made a secret of his desire to eventually move into football management, is the new Development Coach at Deepdale. “I will be working with first-year professionals and also doing some work with the reserves,” he said.
“I’m made up to be taking my first steps in coaching with such a smashing club like Preston. I know the club, I know the area and I know Alan Irvine very well, so it’s just about perfect for me.” In two separate spells at Everton Unsworth played more than 350 games for the club. He started preparing for a career in coaching long before his last game as a player for Huddersfield Town and he’s ready now to give it his best shot. “I can’t wait to get started,” he added. “I’ve worked hard to get my coaching badges and this is an aspect of the game that I’ve always been interested in. Most ex-pros will tell you that you can never replace playing but that this is the next best thing.”