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Everton 1 - 1 Southampton

Half-time: 0 - 0


#Away Logo
FA Carling Premiership 2000-01 – Game #9
3 pm Saturday 14 October 2000
Goodison Park, Merseyside
Att: 29,491
« Ipswich Town (h) Ref: David Elleray Newcastle United (a) »
[ Matchday Calendar ] League Position: 17th [ Results &  Table ]
 MATCH SUMMARY
It may have been two weeks ago, but with memories of Everton's failure against a plucky Ipswich side still painfully fresh, the match started tentatively – apart from a late lunge by Gascoigne after just 6 mins that earned him the yellow card from the dictatorial David Elleray

Mark Pembridge returned as the secret weapon absent from Everton's early season line-ups.  The Welsh wizard certainly seemed to make a difference for Everton, who appeared more solid and eventually more inventive, but it was up front where Jeffers is sorely missed.

Everton newcomers Gary Naysmith and Idan Tal had not completed their transfers in time to be registered for this game.  Instead, young trouble-makers Ball and out-of-favour Irish star and goal-scoring centre-back, Richard Dunne made surprise starts in defence.  Early on, Gravesen slipped in behind and played sweeper in yet another bizarre Smith/Knox tactical bamboozle.

Southampton did well in the first half, having the bulk of possession, and actually hitting the bar with Gerrard beaten just before half-time.

Joe-Max Moore came on for the second half in place of the totally useless Mark Hughes, and more things seemed to be happening, but the goals just wouldn't come.  Mid-way through the half, Stephen Hughes replaced the exhausted Pembridge who had looked good and worked hard on his return.

And in the last 15 mins, a superb strike from Jason Dodd – a 25-yd volley – confirmed the inadequacies of this Everton side, heavily depleted by injuries and still unable to play consistently as a team.  But a good run by Nyarko saw him brought down in the Southampton area and Michael Ball calmly sent Paul Jones the wrong way from the penalty spot, setting the game up for a tense and exciting finish.  

On the whole, however, this performance was simply not good enough from Walter Smith's Everton team, which now slips to 17th position – just outside the bottom three.

 

  

 MATCH FACTS
   GOALSCORERS Finalés
EVERTON: Ball (pen:81') Dunne, M Hughes
Southampton: Dodd (75')
   LINEUPS  Subs Not Used 
EVERTON: Gerrard; Gravesen; Weir, Dunne; S Watson, Ball; Pembridge (63' S Hughes), Nyarko, Gascoigne; Campbell, M Hughes (46' Moore).
Unavailable: Alexandersson, Cleland, Ferguson, Gough, Jeffers, Myhre, Pistone, Xavier (injured);
Naysmith, Tal (not yet registered).
Simonsen, Unsworth, Gemmill.
Southampton: Jones; Dodd, Marsden, Lundekvam, Oakley; Bridge, El Khalej, Kachloul, Soltvedt; Davies, Pahars. Draper, Moss, Ripley, Beattie, Monk.
   Playing Strips  Formations
EVERTON: Royal Blue shirts; white shorts; blue socks. 1-2-2-3-2; 4-4-2
Southampton: Red & white shirts; black shorts; black socks. 4-5-1
   Yellow Cards  Red Cards
EVERTON: Gascoigne (6')
Southampton: Oakley (14'), Kachloul (14'), Davies (52')
 Sports.Com Detailed Match Stats  

  

 MATCH REPORTS
 REPORTS BY EVERTON FANS
Mickey Blue Eyes At the Masquerade's Ball
Rob Burns Do not mix with Alcohol
Dave Shepherd Making your own luck
Peter Hogsmead Marks out of 10
 NEWSPAPER REPORTS
ELECTRONIC TELEGRAPH Ball's penalty pegs back Southampton
by Derick Allsop
THE SUNDAY TIMES Ball rescues point for Everton
by Ron Clarke
THE TIMES England outcasts united again in mutual respect
by Pat Gibson
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 At the Masquerade Ball
Mickey Blue Eyes
 
Hey!  We got a point!  We've turned the corner, right?!  Wrong!

This was the Ipswich game minus three appalling goals, that's all.  Sorry to crush any remaining wild hopes you might have been entertaining... but the game is up, people.  There's nowhere else left to hide.  I hope everybody at the club draws the right conclusion.  And that is that this "display" means both players and management can't hack it.  Something has to give.  Let justice prevail though the heavens fall.

Let's indulge in some grown-up talk for once in an Internet while.

That was one sad, sorry mess out there on the pitch.  There's no reason to suppose it isn't a fair reflection of the dressing room atmosphere.  It usually is.  If so, then we are clearly and unambiguously headed for the Nationwide and some severe pastings in the weeks ahead, at least until the injury list begins to lighten up. 

More to the point, without some major action, we are firmly on course for being bracketed permanently with the likes of Coventry, Leicester, Southampton and all the other middle- to small-sized clubs.  This isn't at all a dig at the latter because the game couldn't survive without them.  But our traditions and expectations are rightly WAY beyond theirs.  Settle for anything less and that is precisely what you will get, and in spades... possibly much, much worse.

So, what of the game against Southampton?

I honestly can't fairly describe our "play" in anything other than the most general of terms.  They just couldn't string more than two passes together, except for a spell just after the Saints scored.  Sounds completely incredible doesn't it?  But I promise you the truth of it.  Saints, not much of a side, looked altogether more capable and interested from the bench outwards.

Once again, our midfield was almost completely useless.  Mark Pembridge worked his socks off but we all know – as does he, honest soul – that he's a limited player.  Gazza pulled the odd stunt and showed a willingness to keep going if he got some help.  The rest were a total waste of space, particularly Nyarko who flattered so much to deceive early in the season... he simply can't work hard enough for Prem football. 

Gerrard should have saved what was a tremendously hit volley but could only paw it half-heartedly into the net even though it was at the right height for saving.  Watson gets skinned far too often for comfort.  Bally did an excellent impression of a lazy, spotty-faced sulky teenager.  Weir-Dunne is no better than anything else without Goughy.  SuperKev is still feeling that dreadful injury.  Mark Hughes might as well stop playing now.  Gravesen continues to look slower than the Titanic going into reverse but well capable of taking on the iceberg with roughly the same results.  It's a mess, people, one big ugly mess.

In the second half, Joe-Max and Stephen Hughes came on for Yozzer 2 and Pembo.  Gravesen immediately went, guess where (and it's only a matter of time before owl arse Prems twig this one), wide right, Yozzer 1 went wide left and Joe-Max mixed it in the middle to help out an increasingly lonely looking SuperKev.  It worked after a fashion too, even though it had an air of desperation about it.... if that's the best formation, why wait until so late in the game?

From which you will rightly deduce that I totally loathe these tactical substitution mind-games.  Are we playing competitive team footy or an even worse version of crap basketball?  Squad football my arse.  Let's get back to IX v IX and leave that crap to lesser sports.

The difference between us and Southampton – as it was against Ipswich and even friggin' Bristol Rovers – is that they had a coherent shape.  Looking at us "play" was like trying to decipher a psychologist's ink blot – you could read into what you wanted.  Me, I think it's a simple game complicated by incapable wankers of one sort or another, including a media whose main athletic ability is to get from one w(h)ine bar to the next without tripping over.

But, in the end, you can't fool the fans.  This game brought in only just under 30,000.  They've plainly had enough.  If Southampton brought about 1,000 with them and we have 22,000 season ticket holders, that means just 7,000 souls could be bothered making the pilgrimage.  Will the message get home?

Well, not if you looked at the half-time "entertainment" – an incredible schlock theatre masquerade called Who Wants To Be An Evertonian? presented without a trace of plagiarism by some embryonic complete wanker of a local media "personality" who appeared more intent on showing that he could replace Michael Barrymore any time – preferably soonest – the call came from Big Media.  Jaysus, what an arsehole!  The tiny proportion of the crowd who could be bothered paying attention squirmed in embarrassment.  I watched it all, as I did against Ipswich, with the fixated horror of a rabbit faced with a cobra.  Luvvy, get shut of this twat NOW... PLEEEEEAAAASSSE!!!

Not incidentally, in the match programme, there was an invitation to purchase...  hold your fucking breath – face masks of SuperKev and The Big Yin!!!  The offer is available between now and Halloween.  Leaving aside the mere fact that the masks look like Amos without Andy and Stallone at his most wooden, it prompted the irresistible question as to who was masquerading as Everton players out there?

The prospect now is that we will be roundly beaten in our next three games at Toon, Anfield and at home to Villa.  All of which may leave us entrenched at the bottom of the table and with matches looming against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Appropriately enough, we let the New Year in with a home game against Leeds.  By then, this form continued, our gates will rightly reflect our season ticket holders plus those visitors who can be bothered turning up to sing, "You're shite, and you know you are."

They don't know the half of it.


   Up to Reports Index ]
Do not mix with Alcohol
Rob Burns
 
Just over 29,000 fans were subjected to another first-half wake as Everton tried in vain to gain a confidence-boosting 3 points.  As I trudged to the ground with a real Howard of a hangover, the drizzle failing to give me much needed hydration, I really had a feeling that – after a couple of weeks of full training and some good International results – we would be looking at a sharper and more motivated Everton side that would be enough to clear the fuzz from my head.

Indeed the thought that Dunne was finally picked in his favoured centre-half position, and Ball's last chance saloon at left-back was encouraging, and with the return of the fiery Pembridge in midfield the clouds were surely breaking over Goodison today.  Watson and Weir made up the remainder of the back four; Gascoigne, Nyarko and Gravesen in the centre of the park behind Hughes and Campbell.  But with the seemingly temperamental Walter Smith in charge nothing is ever as it seems.... 

Clearly Dunne's giggling at the back of the bus recently was playing on Walter's mind – if he was going to sit at the back then Davey Weir would separate the partner's in crime and, for effect, Gravesen would join the defenders in the role of a prefect-cum-sweeper.  So, five at the back at home again!  

Quite honestly, the first half – whose end was greeted by all around boos – was hardly worth remembering; however, in traditional toffee optimism, we can make the best of it.  Encouraging signs included Gerrard's distribution from the back, throwing the ball on most occasions, generally accurate.  Dunne was certainly comfortable at the back and looked as confident as I would expect him to look against lesser opposition – Holland, for example.  

Ball finally looked like he wanted to play, and looked good at left back as he wrapped up Kevin Davies, challenging solidly and looking composed.  He still shows a certain reluctance when coming forward, and failed to hug the touchline when Everton attacked – on a couple of occasions Pembridge was forced to wait as Ball elected to avoid the glaring spaces wide left and ran inside.

It did nearly pay off on one occasion, however, when a brilliantly weighted Watson pass just eluded both he and Nyarko unmarked in the box.  Hughes held the ball up well and certainly took the pressure off the back line.  At the back, the Blues looked to be having an easy time of things, although one or two mad moments from Davey Weir did get the heart racing.  But numbers in defence left shortages in midfield and, realising this, Walter made the change for the second half as Gravesen was pushed forward and Joe-Max Moore came on for Mark Hughes.  It looked as if we were going for the kill – at long last. 

Everton started brightly for the second half, Gascoigne continuing to run his heart out turning like a lathe and really making the difference.  Nyarko, on the other hand, failed to demonstrate any of the promise he showed at Leeds early in the season, failing to make ground when on the ball, rarely involved in the attacks, and too often leaving the defending to the tireless Gazza.  

Gravesen was strong on the right, and YET ANOTHER encouraging sign was to see him wait beyond the far post at corners, sending the ball back across and causing danger from otherwise lost posession.  

Sadly, the forward line looked nothing short of inept.  Campbell's battle for fitness is proving to be very slow, his jumping was poor, and his first touch left a lot to be desired, particularly after a brilliant 50-yard curling pass which bent just in front of KC, who was running between two defenders.  Failing to judge the pace of the ball whilst sprinting through, the ball bounced off his left foot and out of danger. 

Generally, Campbell was very disappointing as many Evertonians felt that by now he would surely have found his sharpness.  In his defence, he was too often played as target man, and the understanding between him and JMM was not good.  

Contrast Super Kev with Mark Pembridge, who in his first competitive match looked at home and brought back some of the low, slide rule passing which led to so many goals last season.  Doing the simple well, Pembridge gave the side balance and a pace slightly slower than headless chicken which we slip into from time to time.  Despite keeping up the pace for most of the second half, Hughes S was eventually introduced as a replacement.  

As time went on, it was inevitable that Southampton would come back into the game, and Jason Dodd spiced it up with a 25-yarder after Everton failed to clear their lines.  With no sign of real threat, Dodd hit a half-volley which Gerrard's touch could not stop.  Some of the crowd, in desperation tried to up the tempo; others left the ground – a worrying tradition that's developing at Goodison Park... 

Everton resumed their attacks and Gascoigne found Nyarko with a squared pass inside the area. Kevin Davies' two footed scything challenge from behind warranted a red card but resulted in a penalty, which Michael Ball coolly converted.  Campbell made his fastest run of the day as he sprinted back with the ball for the restart, but the fire and passion had come too late to force a winner. 

It is difficult to judge the Everton side with so many problems at the moment.  This game certainly showed progress on the dismal Ipswich events, and Pembridge added honest enthusiasm to the team and made a big difference.  Like old boy Barry Horne, he seems to carry on regardless of the rest of the team and avoids joining the confidence slide we see when sloppy errors result in goals conceded.  Both Ball and Dunne's performances warrant a second chance from Walter, however, given the selections we have seen, the arrival of left back Naysmith certainly does not mean the end of the youngster. 

Building on this we have a good chance of playing well at Newcastle next week and, away from the pressure of the home fans, we could even steal something.  I will be sure to have the Paracetamol handy though, just in case. 


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Making your own luck
Dave Shepherd
 
The crucial landmarks of a season can be difficult to recognise as they happen – the picture is only half-painted. 

At halftime we stood at 0-0 and, although we'd had the best of the play, chances were few (how many times have you heard that said about Everton over the years?).

It felt like a landmark because the next goal could put the whole season's writing on the wall.  If Saints scored, fan frustration and player despair could send us into a tailspin.  If we scored it would be a shot of confidence for all that could settle the nerves for a season of building and progress without panic.

Same as last time out, there was a half-time reshuffle, more speed and more purpose.  Away goals killed the revival and turned the crowd last time.  This time we were treated to seeing Blue players fighting for the ball, sliding in for tackles and making progress even though they were still far from coherent as a team.

All they needed was a goal.  A bit of luck.  Pushing forward again and again EFC won lots of corners and had a dozen shots blocked from all angles.  A deflection was surely going to settle it eventually.  But half an hour rolled by and the few deflections we got went wide.  Luckily Southampton's counters all fell apart in the last third.

Then the luck happened, but it went the wrong way.  A deflection into the Park End net with 10 minutes left.  The crowd exodus was quite small, considering.  Then again, perhaps the empty seats were those of people who left two weeks ago and have not come back.

Angry Crowd Syndrome set in quite quickly but, luckily for Everton, the players got it right – they stepped up a gear.  They fought right back and got their goal by pressuring a mistake.  Gravy's cross-pass from the right ran behind Campbell at the penalty spot but carried on to Nyarko just inside the box where the D meets it... and he was bundled over from behind by a simple collision.  No-one protested.  Ball stepped up.  We prayed a lot.  Jones went the wrong way.  GOAL!

The game for the remaining time was so good that it was a pity there was not a third half.  Both teams played much better, with Everton still getting the best of it.

When luck isn't happening you have to press hard and make your own.  We could have used 3 points instead of one, but if the lesson of making your own luck sticks, that performance will be worth a lot more than 2 points by the end of the season.

[Having been a vocal critic of David Elleray over the years, I'll have to admit this time he was very good. Not using his infamous yellow card all the time probably helped]. 


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Marks out of 10
Peter Hogsmead
 

  

  • Gerrard - 5: He has absolutely no command over his defence and his lack of confidence to come and claim balls which should be his is creating more pressure for an already busy back line.
  • Watson - 5½: gave possession away too much and did not look comfortable as a wing back, although you take that risk when you ask a defender to do a wide man's job.
  • Ball - 7: again did not look too comfortable as a wing back, and looked his solid self once we reverted back to a 442. Showed tremendous nerve with a well taken penalty to earn us a point.
  • Weir - 7: a performance you almost come to expect from this solid an unextravagent defender. Showed good feet in bringing the ball out to midfield a couple of times, and distribution was good.
  • Dunne - 6½: most of the crowd were waiting for him to make a mistake, and after a couple of shaky moments he answered his critics best with a competent performance at centre back, particularly in second half when he didn't have to distribute too much.
  • Gravesen - 6½: 6 for the first half as the middle of a back 3, but looked the part when pushed further upfield as part of a 442, although I prefer him in the centre.
  • Nyarko - 5½: The jury is still out on him, he showed a couple of good touches but his habit of drifting in and out of games is proving to be a liability as we are conceding too much ground in midfield, especially to inferior opposition.
  • Gascoigne - 8½: Another finger up to his critics, defying his age with his constant energy and willingness to put himself about. Showed he could still land the ball on the back of a stamp from 50 yards and was instrumental in the move leading to the penalty.
  • Pembridge - 7½: Give him his due, he showed every ounce of commitment that he has always shown, and he seemed more comfortable when he found himself in the centre of the park as opposed to being out on the left. Tackled well and left the passing to someone else.
  • Hughes (Mark)- 5½: You could hit the ball as hard you want at him and he would still kill it. Always looking to spread the ball but has never looked like scoring since he arrived.
  • Campbell - 4: He was so poor, although he is not match fit (despite being back for almost 2 months). He never won a single header and spent the afternoon complaining to the referee every time he lost a challenge. He should have done better from Gravesen's defence splitting pass. Should have been substituted at half time instead of Hughes.
  • Moore - 6: Offered more pace upfront, despite being jetlagged, and his movement gave the midfield something to work around.
  • Hughes (Stephen)  Although being played out of position, he attacked down the left and provided options in the last quarter of the game.

Overall:  Walter Smith again persists with a defensive system at home to supposedly lesser opposition, and a system that our players are not capable of playing in. I think he should look no further than playing 442 in future. I was dismayed however to hear him suggest that our performance level today did not reach the dizzy heights of what we witnessed against Ipswich. Okay this was not the best performance and we did not deserve to win, but by the same token we did not deserve to lose either.

We were exceptionally poor as a team again, showing no creative flair and failing to test the keeper on a greasy surface (see England last week), and I really cannot see us improving in the near future unless Walter acknowledges that his tactics have not been right. However a point gained is better than three points lost

Oh God has it really come to this???

 


   Up to Reports Index ]
 Ball's penalty pegs back Southampton
Derick Allsop, Electronic Telegraph
 

Everton salvaged parity from a match that saved the best till last, but did little to suggest either of these sides would be influencing events at the sharp end of the Premiership this season.

Two clubs, who should already be looking anxiously over their shoulder, confronted each other with commendable free expression, even if the end product was predictably lacking.

Everton's Paul Gascoigne, having come to the conclusion his England career was over, spiced proceedings with a sharp awareness of the game and a still sharper tongue, which tested the patience of the referee, David Elleray.

Marian Pahars assumed the influential role for Southampton, dropping off defenders to take the ball and combining instinctively with his wide players.

Mark Hughes, recalled to the Everton attack, ensured his team were less wasteful with possession than they had been in their previous match here against Ipswich.

Everton's best chances of the first half fell to Alex Nyarko, who was denied by two deflections.  Tahar El Khalej was closer for Southampton, his header skimming the Everton crossbar.

Everton, still hampered by a lengthy injury list, were grateful to bring in Mark Pembridge for the first time this season.  They recalled two players apparently surplus to requirements, Michael Ball and Richard Dunne, as they waited to complete the signing of Gary Naysmith from Hearts.

Southampton had their own injury problems to contend with, as Dean Richards was absent with an Achilles tendon problem, Jo Tessem with a sore foot.  Matt Le Tissier was suspended.

Confidence, however, was in plentiful supply for Southampton, Pahars was a pivotal figure of their attacks, and Hassan Kachloul and Trond Soltvedt threatened in the opening three minutes.

Kevin Campbell was seemingly in the clear for Everton early in the second half, only for Claus Lundekvam to eat up the ground and take the ball off the striker's toes.  Tomas Gravesen was more assertive when he had a sight of goal but shot too high.

Jason Dodd gave the match a goal it scarcely deserved after 75 minutes, a stunning right-foot volley from 25 yards, which Paul Gerrard reached with a hand but could not keep out.

Everton equalised six minutes later, Ball converting a penalty after Kevin Davies had fouled Nyarko.

Report © The Electronic Telegraph

   Up to Reports Index ]
 Ball rescues point for Everton
by Ron Clarke, The Times
 

A GAME destined for the goalless draw that the poor quality certainly merited was saved in the final minutes by goals that neither side deserved.  In an afternoon when a frustrated crowd had been served only house wine, we were suddenly presented with a champagne moment on 76 minutes with Jason Dodd crashing home a wonderful 25-yard volley after Everton had failed to clear a long throw-in.

For much of the play that had preceded this, it would have been more appropriate if Ken Dodd had scored, since the paucity of football was so obvious that it was almost laughable.

After waiting all afternoon for a goal, we got another just five minutes later when Kevin Davies up-ended Alex Nyarko in the 18-yard area.  Michael Ball calmly chipped the resulting penalty kick past the previously almost redundant Paul Jones in the Southampton goal.

When you get two sides who have virtually misfired all season, with the odd exception here and there, it was not surprising that we got a game that never really kicked into action.  The Everton manager, Walter Smith, summed it up perfectly after the game by saying: "It was not the best of games and there were few chances.  There was nothing in it."

Glenn Hoddle, the Southampton manager, surprisingly said he was delighted the way his team had played.  "I feel we deserved the win.  It was good to come away and dominate as we did.  If we continue playing like that we will win more than we lose.  I was pleased with everybody and Paul Jones didn't have an on-target shot to save."

After a comedy of errors leading to a 3-0 home defeat to Ipswich last time out, the Everton faithful could have been forgiven for believing this game was going to be much ado about nothing.  This was reinforced by the fact that they were missing at least seven regulars and Southampton were without the suspended Matthew Le Tissier and were forced to play centre-back Claus Lundekvam with a mask to protect a fractured cheekbone.  This was more chorus line than centre-stage.  But, of course, the real drama was behind the scenes with the rejected but rejuvenated Paul Gascoigne performing his skills in front of Hoddle for the first time since that infamous 1998 World Cup fall-out.

It was fully four minutes before the former England international got his first touch.  He collected the ball in the centre circle, looked to his right where the visiting manager was sitting in the dug-out, and rolled a short ball to Steve Watson.  Simple but effective, not normally the words alongside Gascoigne in the thesaurus.

His next move was more akin to the bad old days as he aimed a wild and reckless tackle at Matthew Oakley.  Perhaps it looked worse than it actually was but, nevertheless, the match referee, David Elleray, deemed it worthy of a yellow card.  Hassan Kachloul fired the resulting free kick against a defensive wall and the ball bounced away for a corner.

Kachloul should have done better in the very first minute, when, receiving the ball in acres of space, he sent a tame attempt well wide of Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard.  After this, much of the limited action was in keeping with the grey and leaden skies that had descended on Goodison.  Too many passes went astray and too few chances were created to lift the gloom.

Sporadic opportunities in the first half saw Ball narrowly failing to get a head to Watson's teasing cross and Kevin Campbell's powerful shot was well blocked by a massed rank of defenders to send it over the bar.  At the other end, Marian Pahars, supported by the wide-running Kachloul, were the only real threats.

For the second half, Everton reverted to a flat back-four with Joe-Max Moore – who only arrived back the day before after playing for the USA against Costa Rica – replacing Mark Hughes and Thomas Gravesen moving into midfield.

Gascoigne, seemingly subdued by that early booking, still managed to show rare glimpses of his famous touch, but his role became more motivator than creator as he was often seen waving his arms in frustration in a call for more cohesion.

His pleas were largely ignored, amply illustrated by Nyarko who, with at least two players in better positions, opted to go it alone.  In the end the Ghanaian international delayed, stumbled and mis-fired in what could be underlined as a fitting epitaph for the whole afternoon.

There was a half-chance at the restart as Campbell had the ball whipped away from his feet in a last-ditch tackle by Lundekvam.  But it was not until those last 15 minutes that the crowd got at least some sort of spectacle as the two goals set up an exciting finale.

Transformed Everton suddenly lunged into every tackle as if their very Premiership survival depended on it and, right at the death, Gascoigne performed a mesmeric dribble that threatened not only to split Southampton's defence, but also spoil Mr Hoddle's afternoon.  Now that would have been an interesting spectacle.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd

   Up to Reports Index ]
 England outcasts united again in mutual respect
by Pat Gibson, The Times
 

THE handshake was firm and friendly, the good wishes warm and sincere.  Whatever Paul Gascoigne felt about Glenn Hoddle when he left him out of his 1998 World Cup squad, there was nothing but mutual respect after a game which showed that the odd couple still have plenty to offer the English game.

Gascoigne first.  When Walter Smith, the Everton manager, charitably took the fading genius off Middlesbrough’s hands, he saw him as no more than a squad player.  Now he recognises that his role could be far more important.  “I was taking into consideration the fact that he had not reached a level of fitness in two years at Middlesbrough, mainly through injury,” Smith said.  

“He has now got himself free from injury, he looks as though he is enjoying his football again and I have got to say that he is playing very effectively for us.  He is showing a keenness to play, that’s the main thing.  He did not want to finish his career on a low and if he can keep up his fitness and enthusiasm, he is still capable of producing good performances in the Premiership.  We’ve got to give him a wee bit of time to get his full sharpness back but he is getting towards that now.”

Chris Marsden, the Southampton midfield player, can testify to that. “Gazza is the heartbeat of Everton at the moment,” he said.  “A lot has been made of the rift between him and our manager but the boss made a point of singling him out before the game”.

Which brings us to Hoddle, who has always said that leaving out Gascoigne on fitness grounds was the saddest decision that he has had to make.  He rightly identified him as the one player capable of giving Everton the inspiration they desperately needed after losing seven players through injury and winning only one of their previous eight games.  For all Gascoigne’s zest on Saturday, which brought him an early booking for a lunge at Matthew Oakley, Hoddle’s tactics worked perfectly and Southampton would probably have won comfortably if Tahar El Kahlej’s header had hit the back of the net instead of skimming the bar just before half-time.

They still looked like winning when Jason Dodd beat Paul Gerrard with a spectacular 30-yard volley in the 76th minute, but, five minutes later, Gascoigne found Thomas Gravesen with a marvellously perceptive pass and as Alex Nyarko fastened on to the cross, Kevin Davies clumsily bundled him over.

Michael Ball, allegedly dropped after the Worthington Cup defeat by Bristol Rovers for laughing at the back of the bus on the way home, had the last laugh by sending Paul Jones the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Report © Times Newspapers Ltd
 


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