September 2008 Archives

THERE is a theory in football that should be remembered when you are at a low ebb - things can turn dramatically on one result.

After the crushing disappointment of the weekend defeat against Liverpool, Everton will travel to Belgium knowing they will be second favourites to book a place in the UEFA Cup group stages, and there is bound to be a shortage of confidence.

But don't for one minute believe that the white flag will get hoisted before kick-off. There has got to be a belief among the players they can beat Standard Liege and get the result which will kick things into gear.

The problem we have at the minute, however, is an inability to keep clean sheets, and if the Blues continue to gift the opposition goals, we are going to have enormous problems. Liege, as we saw in the first leg, are certainly good enough to take advantage.

So the key to success in Liege is strength - the lads have got to stick together when they come under pressure and ensure they get to half-time without conceding. Even being 0-0 with 20 minutes remaining is terrific because the manager can start to make changes then.

FOLLOWING Saturday's derby defeat, and on hearing of abuse and protests hurled by some fans in the direction of Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, lifelong Blues fan and Talksport Radio presenter Mike Parry contacted the ECHO sports desk of his own volition to ask if he might speak up on behalf of the Goodison owner. Here are his views.

THERE are many things in life I do not understand.

Quantum physics; Japanese newspapers and why Michael "wooden" Caine is hailed as a great actor, are just a few.

And if I suddenly needed to find out about things on a subject of which I had no knowledge I could go and get hold of a copy of Encyclopedia Brittanica or, more likely these days, search the world-wide web.

But there's one subject that, to me, defies explanation. And that is the vitriol and the bile which is directed towards Bill Kenwright from a certain section of the fans.

PHIL NEVILLE demanded that Everton's players put 'their balls on the line' to avert a European calamity.

Neville is respectful of the threat Standard Liege pose to his side's UEFA Cup ambitions after the first leg 2-2- draw but is not daunted by the prospect of needing to get a win in Belgium on Thursday to secure a place in the group stages.

He concedes it has been a difficult start to the campaign, and that confidence has been dented by recent defeats against Blackburn and Liverpool, but Everton's captain is convinced they can turn things around by beating Liege.

But, to do that, Neville today urged his team-mates to have courage in their convictions and believe they can get a positive result in the Stade Maurice Dufrasne to set the wheels in motion on their stuttering campaign

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EVERTON manager David Moyes has admitted an FA charge of improper conduct.

The Goodison Park chief was charged by the FA for his reaction to a decision by referee Alan Wiley in the 3-2 victory over Stoke at the Britannia Stadium earlier this month.

Moyes had until Thursday to reply to the charge and although he has admitted the charge of improper conduct he has requested a personal hearing with the FA disciplinary panel.

No date for the hearing has yet been set.

The decision which infuriated the manager involved a penalty claim when Leon Cort handled the ball inside the box.

Referee Wiley pointed to the penalty spot but then changed his decision after consultation with his assistant, instead awarding a free-kick on the edge of the area.

EVERTON Under-18s went down to only their second defeat of the season as they lost 1-0 at Manchester City on Friday.

It was a close match in the FA Premier Academy League but Neil Dewsnip's side just couldn't get the better of last year's north west section winners.

Everton remain fourth in the table behind five points behind leaders Liverpool with both Manchester sides above them as well.

In a typically keenly-contested match City took the lead in the 35th minute when Everton were on the attack and the home side broke quickly to catch out the visitors' centre-backs to go through and round Lars Stubhaug to score.

Everton tried to find an equaliser, but had very few chances. City, though, also found opportunities hard to come by.

IT may be far too early in the season to be talking about must-win games, but Everton's meeting with Newcastle on Sunday is already taking on huge significance.

The best way to bounce back from a defeat - particularly in a derby match - is to win the next one. Especially if your next two league fixtures after that are Arsenal and Manchester United.

This is a really tough spell for Everton, especially with such an important UEFA Cup tie thrown into the equation.

There is no doubt the team - and certain key players - are not playing to the same kind of level as last year. And that is making it harder for the new faces to slot in smoothly.

Everton struggled to get people in during the transfer window and the approach seemed a bit scattergun. But manager David Moyes needed to add bodies, which may have resulted in him paying more for Marouane Fellaini, who now has a big price tag to justify.

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LEON OSMAN insists Everton will go into Thursday's make or break UEFA Cup tie in Liege in a positive frame of mind because they're more suited to playing away from home than they are at Goodison Park.

David Moyes's side must either defeat Standard on their own ground in two days time or record a score draw of 3-3 or more if they're to eliminate the Belgian champions and secure their place in the group stage of the UEFA Cup.

It's the second consecutive season that Everton have gone into the return leg of their European first round tie following a home draw but last term they got the 3-2 win to put them through away at Ukrainians Metalist Kharkiv and went on to finish the group stage with a 100% record from their four matches.

However, this week's encounter is expected to be a much sterner test and Osman and his team-mates know that they'll have to be on the top of their game to avoid their European adventure ending almost as soon as it has started.

Not one shot on target in the last three merseyside derbies doesnt make great reading for any Evertonian at the moment especially going down to a not so great Liverpool side on saturday lunch-time.

Being out-played by a poor Blackburn Rovers side in the Carling Cup too, our players promised us the world for the Liverpool game but the massive improvements didnt come.
Another display like the one on saturday lunchtime against Standard Liege could spell the end to our Uefa cup campaign before it has even started.

I know some people might say its early days but anything other than a win against a poor Newcastle side on sunday and it could be "Goodnight Vienna" to any ambitions of European football being played at Goodison Park next season.
With a visit to the Emirates stadium after that and then Manchester United at Goodsion, it could be a long and dismal winter especially with the players lacking in so much confidence.

With the FA Cup not starting til January it could mean David Moyes having just Premier league fixtures to totally focus on until then.

Roll back to April last year at Goodsion Park, were we struggled to beat the worst team in Premier League history Derby County.
That was our last clean sheet!

With us hovering about mid-table at the moment, results need to improve and quick.
If they dont, at what time do us Evertonians hit the panic button?



IT was an unhappy first taste of the derby for Everton's new boys.

Club record £15million signing Marouane Fellaini was booked early on for a poor tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa and the midfielder struggled to make his mark on proceedings as Liverpool dominated in midfield.

It was always going to be tough for the 20-year-old as he has found himself coming into a side desperately short of confidence.

Fellaini should have found the net in the first half after Pepe Reina failed to claim a cross but he blasted his shot straight at Jamie Carragher.

TAKE the positives - there was no own goal and Joe Kinnear is not waiting in the wings to become manager.

But, then again, that's the footballing equivalent of losing a crisp £50 note and finding five pence. No defeat hurts an Evertonian more than one inflicted by the side from across Stanley Park and this latest reverse is especially hard to stomach.

Unable to pin the blame on an erratic referee or point to a contentious, damaging decision, the sight of thousands of empty blue seats long before Mike Riley blew the final whistle was a damning indictment about the way the 208th Merseyside derby had gone.

It was, unfortunately, the latest in a long line of crushing blows that have been suffered during what has been a calamitous start and those who traipsed disillusioned out of the old stadium on Saturday believe Everton have 90 minutes this week to save the season.

On present form, there won't be too many predicting an away win and they can't be blamed. Devoid of confidence, lacking shape and unable to keep a clean sheet, watching Everton stutter and stumble now is breaking the hearts of those of the Royal Blue faith.

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