Howard Kendall: Everton must rise to big occasion
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
By Howard Kendall
Make no mistake about it, this is as big a game as Everton have faced in a long time, and the incentive of putting six points between them and Villa with two games remaining should surely have the players ready to run themselves into the ground.
Hopefully, the energy and enthusiasm will transmit to the crowd and it will make for a special occasion. But there is no doubt that we have got to drastically improve on anything we have produced in recent weeks to see off Villa.
It's so important to get a good start, and a crunching tackle to set the tone is just as important as a good shot. Hopefully, if the players can get the crowd on side in the early exchanges, I would fancy us to win.
Take nothing away from Villa, however, as they have been one of the success stories from this campaign. Martin O'Neill has done a fabulous job down there - in time, I believe the FA will rue the decision not to make him England manager.
Martin has enjoyed great success wherever he has been and I can see bits of Brian Clough in him. But he is his own man, too, and that is why he has thrived. Cloughie was a one off and those who tried to copy him as managers invariably failed.
I thought Martin was the ideal man for England and would have gone for him before Fabio Capello. He might speak Irish but whenever Martin opens his mouth he talks a lot of sense.
Skipper's on fire!
WHAT a difference the captain's armband makes to some players.
Having appeared out of sorts, suddenly Michael Owen is doing what he does best again.
I always preferred to have a defender doing the skipper job. Then again, with the likes of Dave Watson and Kevin Ratcliffe, they didn't need an armband to fire them up.
But, occasionally, it can work the oracle.
I made Duncan Ferguson captain once and he responded by scoring a hat-trick against Bolton. He gave me that armband as a token before his last game for Everton.
Clearly, Kevin Keegan felt that the extra responsibility would galvanise Michael, but even he must be taken aback by the amount of goals he has scored recently - an inspired decision.
Buzzing with Bs
WITH the season drawing to a close, thoughts are already turning towards potential summer signings.
I'd love to see two players here whose names begin with 'B'
The first is Gareth Barry, who has enjoyed a terrific year for Aston Villa, and the second is Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Bentley. Without question, these would dramatically improve Everton's squad.
Getting them may prove difficult. It all depends how much is in the kitty.
But Everton really need to be going for that calibre of player.
We're at the stage where the squad needs more star quality.