April 2008 Archives

A POPULAR theory has it that Everton's draw with Aston Villa on Sunday means they have surrendered the initiative in the race for Europe. Don't believe it for one minute!

Things will become much clearer following the next round of games, but I am still convinced that the Blues will finish fifth, and have every confidence they will defy the odds by getting a point at Arsenal next weekend.

Sure, it was disappointing to surrender the lead twice against Villa, but there were signs that we were starting to get back to something like our best. And I would much rather be in our position than Villa's with two games to go.

WHEN it comes to individual awards, Joleon Lescott pays a price for versatility.

I'm sure many Everton fans were dismayed to see the likes of Sagna and Clichy in the PFA Team of the Year, while no Everton player got a mention.

Lescott, for the goals he has scored and the dominant part he has played in Everton's improvement this season, has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League.

But recognition in these cases goes to players who are more specialised in their roles. Clichy and Evra are out-and-out left-sided players whereas Lescott is seen as a centre-back and very often isn't playing in his favoured position.


ANSWER honestly now. What thought flashed through your mind when Yakubu's inviting pull back dropped at Phil Neville's trusty right foot yesterday afternoon?

Was it a warning that valued friends and family on the Gwladys Street should duck?

A thought, perhaps, that if the Blues skipper took a touch first he might be able to pass to a better positioned team-mate?

Or maybe clearing your throat in anticipation of the unlikely prospect of the ball nestling sweetly in the back of the net.

If answer c) was the least likely outcome, that's just what happened.

Everton defied expectations again.

Which is why it would be wrong to pop the passports back behind the mantelpiece clock just yet.

In all likelihood, Everton now need a point at Arsenal next Sunday if their long held dream of back-to-back UEFA Cup campaigns for the first time in 20 years is to be realised.

But they got one there last season, and with a performance as committed and as purposeful as they produced yesterday, they can do so again.

DISAPPOINTED Everton players, staff and supporters were certainly not in the mood for a lap of honour after 'only' drawing yesterday's game with Aston Villa 2-2 but the potentially crucial result ensured that the club have now reached their highest ever Premier League points tally.

Everton, now on 62 points, have twice finished on 61 in the Premier League. The first occasion was in 1995-96 - Joe Royle's only full season in charge at Goodison Park - the 'Dogs of War' who had battled their way clear of relegation the previous year and won the FA Cup, added Andrei Kanchelskis to their ranks and inspired by the 16-goal flying winger collected 61 points.

Finishing sixth that season was not good enough to secure a UEFA Cup finish. A 1-0 win over Villa on the final day was unable to haul Royle's side above former Evertonian Bruce Rioch's troops at Arsenal after goals in the last eight minutes from David Platt and Dennis Bergkamp saw the Gunners overturn a 1-0 deficit at home to their manager's previous club Bolton.

WITH the FA finally making their position clear on who will get their nomination for next season's UEFA Cup, the significance of tomorrow's match at Goodison Park is magnified.

To qualify for Europe next season Everton must finish above Aston Villa

YESTERDAY marked the first anniversary of Alan Ball's untimely passing but his memory continues to burn brightly in the mind of Evertonians.

INTERNATIONAL football is unlikely to commandeer too much attention this summer but a couple of fixtures may be of huge importance to a couple of Everton players.

AAH for those politically incorrect days of yore . . .

Manchester United came up with a novel experiment to try and encourage more women to attend football matches during the Roaring Twenties - put them in their own pen!

THE jokes started within minutes. A caller to Radio 5 Live put on his best 'listen to me I'm being serious' voice and said: "John Arne Riise's just been pulled over by the police on the M62."

SOMETIMES as a football manager, you are presented with a game that only requires a one word team talk and David Moyes faces that situation on Sunday.

Aston Villa, the side who want to wrestle fifth place from Everton's grasp, will arrive at Goodison Park brimming with confidence, but David is only going to have to tell his players to "win" in order to fire them up

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