Among the delights in store this weekend for faithful
Evertonians visiting Goodison Park is the possible and long-awaited
full debut of Canadian striker and saviour pro-tem, Tomasz
Radzinski... unless Walter holds him back in favour of another
ultra-defensive home line-up. Gemmill and Pembridge
miss out again, but Pistone and Watson are reportedly fit, barring last-minute training-ground mishaps.
Then there is the return of one Dirty Don – The Hutch,
now with West Ham – who's recent transfer shenanigans have confirmed
in many people's eyes the wisdom of Walter's decision to get
shut when he was at his peak with us two seasons ago.
This match could be considered a critical mid-table
six-pointer now that West Ham have dragged themselves off the
bottom of the table with an impressive win over Newcastle and
now stand just
behind The Blues in the mediocre middle ground of the
After last week's expressions of frustration from the
travelling contingent at Blackburn, who were unusually
unsympathetic to Walter Smith's inspired substitutions, this
game might be viewed as a critical one for the Everton
Manager. He has been given a lot of slack by those who
can discount the three years of stagnation which have
prevented the otherwise inevitable drop to the
Nationwide. But with four successive defeats, matched by
insipid performances in at least three of those games, the
need for a change in our fortunes has never been
How will that happen? Will Walter employ the talents
of wingers who can make full use of the narrowed confines on
Everton's wings? Will the remarkably uncreative midfield
suddenly start to supply useful ground-balls forward? Will the front pair actually be mobile enough to reach those
Sadly, the sight of such football from an Everton side
seems to be a dim and distant memory. We seem to have
been waiting for the turnaround of a new dawn for many a long
year... But you can never say never in football. It COULD happen with THIS game....
But then again...
by David Catton
If the first point of amazement was the dropping of Alan Stubbs, the second
was the realisation that Campbell can actually be quite a good target man and
that Radzinski could "read" him - a bit like Jeffers really –
although this was only their first full game together. What will the
future hold when they've got a few more games under their belts?
Not only did Campbell win the ball in the air, it always seemed to be going
to a place where Radzinski either was or shortly would be - and that was usually
a good 20 yards or more away and not the 6 feet that has generally separated
Campbell and Ferguson during matches so far this season.
One glancing header from a Gerrard kick-out found Radzinski bearing down on
the West Ham goal and could so easily have been in. Ferguson has proved
totally incapable of doing anything like that - neither the glancing header to a
colleague moving into space nor being in a position to pounce on a header from
Campbell. So, Duncan, you are the weakest link.
The anti-Walterism has to be, "Why on earth did he (and/or Archie) think
that the Campbell - Ferguson partnership could ever function in a competitive
match if he'd watched them in training?" And why did they persevere
with it for so long? I appreciate that Radzinski hasn't been available but
it must have been worth considering someone - anyone - else before now.
As for Gazza, it was pitifully sad to see him go out like this. He came
on pumped up for the game. He was puce (the colour of boiled shite for
those who don't recognise the word) in the face and spent the first 3 minutes
trying to win the ball single-handedly every time it went near a West Ham
player. Almost inevitably he injured himself and then had a tantrum when
he refused to accept that he couldn't continue. On came Bilbo Baggins to
play like a Brazilian - "Marko" he should be called after this.
I remarked that Gazza would probably be pissed by half-time. I hope I was
wrong and that he's in for treatment today but I wonder.
Gravesen scored a great individual goal and another dipper would have been
the goal of the season if it had sneaked in. A good committed performance
and he should get better as he gets to full fitness. As Gravesen carried
on running to score the third goal, a voice behind me was imploring, "Pass
it you greedy bastard!" Oh how we chuckled after that.
Marko Pembinho: The ghost of Andy Hinchcliffe! We haven't seen
accurately whipped-in corners like that for many a long season! He played
bloody well yesterday.
Alexandersson was NOT brilliant; his understanding with Watson is negligible
and he drifts inside far too much. His cross for the first goal was
Xavier was brilliant and I just wish he could/would stay at centre back but
who knows with Walter? After he did well at the back against Crystal
Palace (the only one who did?), he was moved into midfield for the derby and
might just as well have been a spectator for all the involvement he had while he
was on the field.
Gerrard = ditherer. He comes out, stops, comes a bit further and then
goes back. It must be a nightmare to play in front of him no matter how
good he may be at shot-stopping. There don't appear to be any calls,
Pistone seems to have class but doesn't want to work too hard to prove it.
Watson = endeavour and commitment. There are lots better players in his
position but he keeps slogging away. He drifted into the centre a lot
yesterday and a better left winger than the one playing for West Ham could have
made Everton pay dearly before we got an unassailable lead.
Weir seemed a lot happier than he has been alongside Stubbs but has some way
to go before he's back to his best.
Campbell and Radzinski? Watch out the rest of the League - if these two
stay fit, Walter and Archie may yet make me eat that humble pie. I
certainly hope so but in the meantime, I'll carry on breathing.
Can We Play You Every
by Julian Cashen
Well, after missing the first three games
on a family holiday - it's a buzz when a text message comes through to say we've
won - I've been too depressed to send in any match reports till now. Still, this
result shoved one right up the Walter out brigade, eh? eh?
Well, of course
it didn't. This one result doesn't make Walter a good manager any more than the
previous four defeats made him a bad one. Let's not forget we 'ammered the 'Ammers
4-0 at their place two seasons ago only to go on to draw two and lose three of
the next five, including a humiliating reverse to Coventry.
described as the last straw because it came on the back of three defeats
including the traditional hapless exit from the Worthless Cup, but because it
was seen as encapsulating seasons of mind-numbing mediocrity and worse under
And while we're on the subject, since when has losing to
an inevitable defeat to a better team? I seem to remember that, prior to last
season, we were pasting the bastards regularly. OK they might have improved but
just as surely we have gone backwards.
But I digress.
the Dice Again
Another day, another surprising line up. I have to confess
that it took me a long time to figure whether we were playing a back-four, or three
at the back with Watson and Naysmith as wing backs.
Personally I was delighted
to see Pistone in the team. He's an elegant defender, calm and comfortable on the ball.
He has his share of detractors though - mostly the fans of Unsie style
'commitment, who think you're not trying if you can't wring a gallon of sweat
out of your shirt after the match. Whatever, the surprise of Pistone's inclusion
was who made way for him - the 'returning hero', Alan Stubbs.
this a little harsh, especially as Xavier (whoever compared him in the salmon
pink kit to a slice of battenburg had a moment of true comic genius) kept his
place after some dodgy performances, albeit out of position.
Up front an extremely
welcome first start for Radzinski.
The Gazza Enigma
Our game plan
was undermined after a couple of minutes when Gazza, having survived one
horrific attempted tackle on Hutch, tried to boot someone out of the ground and
instead performed a great haymaker into empty air that did his ligaments. It's
all very well whingeing when you have to go off but when, when, when will Gazza
learn to turn his pre-match intensity into something constructive rather than
The answer of course is 'never'.
Anyway, enter the
Welsh Dragon. OK, well, a little ginger Welshman came on and to my utter
astonishment performed excellently and has clearly been working on his delivery
of set- plays. Ironic that the first game Ferguson misses we get some real
quality into the box at last. Good for you Pembo.
Mind you, it has to be said
that the first half was fairly turgid fare, with the 'Ammers coming perhaps
closer to scoring than we did when di Canio slid one just wide of the post with
Gerrard well beaten.
But we all know when's the best time to score. Right
on cue, a move which seemed to have died was resurrected down the right flank
and some decent interplay sees Alexandersson in position to deliver an excellent
cross. The execution is perfect, Super takes one step to get away from the
immobile ex-red Song, and glances in the perfect header. YES!!! And as one of
his doubters, if not his knockers (oooerrr!!) I take my hat off to the Captain's
four goals in eight league games.
From Famine to Feast
seemed to knock the stuffing out of West Ham and we were treated to the rare
spectacle of an Everton side well on top, full of confidence, and playing
football as it should be played - on the ground. It has to be said though, we
were helped by some truly miserable defending by the 'Ammers who on this form
will really struggle this term.
Hutch's own goal resulted from a brilliant,
wickedly curling free kick by Pembo, played into the area between keeper and
back four that is so difficult to defend. Gravesen's was a decent effort but an
absolute calamity for West Ham who allowed him to go on unopposed from just
inside his own half. He seemed to run out of steam towards the edge of the box
but the defence opened up so obligingly that he managed to trundle on for
another couple of yards before squirting one into the corner.
Full marks to him
for an excellent second half, and the moment of the match was surely his half-volley from 30 yards that was prevented from being goal of the season only by
the desperate fist of the frantically back-pedalling Hislop.
With the Hammers in
complete disarray Watson got the fourth, left footed from close range, but the
goal we were waiting for was the fifth. Radzinski capped a hugely promising full
debut by once again taking advantage of dithering by the Hammers rearguard.
seemed to have taken it too wide round the keeper but spun round and snuck it in
from a tight angle.
Get in there my son!!! Let's hope it's the first of many
many goals for Rad.
Wally - in, out, shake him all about
get carried away - West Ham capitulated in the most craven of manners, and if
we've been annoyed at the lack of effort from those in the Royal Blue, you have
to wonder how the West Ham fans are feeling after this shambles.
other hand it is encouraging that we have so far seemed capable of beating all
the likely mid- to lower-table finishers. Indeed the surprise of the season so
far is, despite all the money around, how many really poor teams there are in the
Premiership. I notice that Derby for example are so hard up that they cannot
take anyone even on loan.
The new Leicester manager will have no money to spend.
Charlton are Ł20M in debt. It's the economics of madness and perhaps the fact
that we have been cutting our shirt according to our cloth, or whatever the
bloody expression is, for longer than the rest, may just stand us in good stead...
I'm no convert to the school of thought that Smith is doing a good job.
His bizarre team selections, unfathomable formations, and his penchant for
throwing defenders into the fray when we are chasing games, all count against
him. He seems to bear grudges against players and his sidekick's 'motivational'
half-time punch-ups are straight from the Sunday League.
On the other hand,
as I said in my season preview, if there was no sign of improvement by Christmas,
I expected him to go. The corollary is that, having made as good a start as
could reasonably be expected, we have to give him some credit and get off his
back at least for now.
Next up - the Tractor Boys
We were mugged
well and truly by Ipswich last year. This season they appear a little below the
standards they set, and are not scoring anywhere near so freely. It will still
be a tough one, but I put us down to get a point out of this.
Gazza injury woe as
Everton run riot
by Jonathan Northcroft, Sunday Times
THE end, or merely the beginning of the end? Three weeks ago, Walter
Smith said something quite moving about Paul Gascoigne. Smith expressed
not only his own wish for the midfielder but a truth which should touch any
football fan who has been given any pleasure by Gazza down the years. It
does not matter how you judge Gascoigne, old gladiators deserve to go out on
their shields. "It would be good for him to finish his career
playing," said Smith. "Rather than having to give up for other
Booze, cigarettes, stupidity. You could fill a book about
Gascoigne. But if there was one consolation for the player yesterday, it
was that Smith's noble hope might be realised. Gascoigne exited Goodison
in tears after damaging his knee ligaments in a third-minute challenge with
"Hopefully he'll be out for two, or at maximum three weeks," said
Smith. But his words were the same when Gascoigne suffered a similar
injury last season and ended up absent for 11 months.
Gascoigne's injury took the wind out of Everton's supporters but by half-time
when their side led through a Kevin Campbell header, they had recovered.
At the finish, with four more goals added, they were quite carried away.
Last week they chanted that Smith did not know what he was doing.
Yesterday they sang how the manager has produced " the greatest team the
world has ever seen".
Everton's second-half performance was full of a verve and technique
previously thought to be dead at Goodison which quite demolished West Ham.
As the minutes ebbed, Tomasz Radzinski completed their joy by taking the ball
round Shaka Hislop and dinking it into the far corner for the fifth goal.
Radzinski departed to a standing ovation. Gascoigne also did as he
limped from the arena after just eight minutes. He was on the field for
only three of these, having gone down, fingers clenched grimly round the knee,
after stretching into that challenge on Kanouté.
Crowds love Gascoigne as much for his enthusiasm as his skill yet, just as in
the 1991 FA Cup final, his enemy was eagerness. Then he changed the course
of his career when he snapped his cruciates lunging at Gary Charles.
Here his joy at being able to play again saw him begin the game charging
after the ball like a dog in pursuit of a stick. Within minutes he leapt
knee-high at Paolo di Canio. His challenge with Kanouté was also too
Gascoigne's replacement, Mark Pembridge, troubled Hislop from distance three
times and seemed the likeliest first scorer until Campbell intervened. His
goal was outstanding. Niclas Alexandersson bent in a cross and Campbell's
glanced header, after muscling in front of his markers, was perfect.
West Ham at least made Everton work to take the lead but spent the second
half actually helping their opponents. It was 2-0 when Don Hutchison
inexplicably nipped in front of Hislop to steer Pembridge's free kick into his
Everton's fourth goal came when Hislop spilled Steve Watson's low centre,
allowing the wing-back to knock in the rebound. Their third was at least
all their own work when Gravesen barrelled his way into the box before hitting a
fine shot in off the posts.
Glenn Roeder declined to say what he spent an hour telling his players behind
a locked dressing room door but spoke of "diabolical defending" and
"letting the fans down".
© Times Newspapers, Ltd