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[Season Diary]

December 2003

If it happened and it was Everton-related, it's right here in the comprehensive Season Diary.
Items are in reverse chronological order (more recent first). 

Navigate to previous months and seasons using the links directly below:



 December 2003


News Headlines & Features


Rooney does it again
28 Dec - Wayne Rooney came off the bench to score the decisive goal once again as Everton ground out a narrow victory against a stubborn Birmingham side at Goodison Park. The 18 year-old replaced Lee Carsley at the interval following an uninspiring first half by the Blues and 24 minutes later he belted home from close range after a Gary Naysmith corner had caused confusion in the visiting defence. The result lifts the Blues to 11th in the table (pending the result between Middlesbrough and Manchester United) and sends them into 2004 on a high note.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained
26 Dec - The result at Old Trafford was the same as always but David Moyes hopefully learned that putting 10 men behind the ball and hoping that United won't score is doomed from the start.  It took United 7 minutes to score through Nicky Butt.  Although a Gary Neville own goal restored parity, Kleberson nodded the home side in front again just before half time.  Moyes decided to change tack and push forward around the hour mark but the Red Devils merely increased their lead through Bellion and withstood a late surge by the Blues which culminated in Duncan Ferguson diving to head home a consolation goal with a minute left.

Radzinski wins Christmas Cracker
20 Dec - Everton lost and then reclaimed the lead in this pulsating encounter with Leicester, Tomasz Radzinski's 79th-minute goal from Duncan Ferguson's knock-down finally sealing three precious points. The Blues dominated the first half and Lee Carsley bundled the ball in to make it 1-0. Right on half time, though, Les Ferdinand (who else?) rapped home the equaliser and the visitors took a surprise lead when James Scowcroft headed home just before the hour mark. Then, substitute Wayne Rooney was teed up 16 yards out and he belted home the equaliser to set up a grandstand finish for Radzinski to fire home the winner that was preserved by a vital injury-time save by Nigel Martyn. We have some excellent match reports from Paul Waring and Paul Traill.

Signs of Life
18 Dec - The hugely uplifting win at Fratton Park last weekend, coupled with the steady improvement in the games against Man City and Middlesbrough in the Cup, suggest that David Moyes is slowly getting to grips with his first managerial crisis. The Blues have provided a platform on which to despatch of Leicester on Saturday and gear up for the mother of all tests at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Updating the Complete Record
18 Dec - Unabashed Everton stattos will be familiar with Everton A Complete Record, the definitive reference work on Everton's playing history, by Ian Ross & Gordon Smailes. But the book was last published in 1993. So our contribution to celebrating Everton's 125th anniversary is to introduce a series of new pages that bring it up to date thanks to the diligent work of Steve Flanagan.

Everton's poor shoot-out record
16 Dec - Out of seven penalty shoot-outs in senior games, Everton have won just two of them. This unique compilation details every facet of that dismal record, and even includes shoot-outs in pre-season matches. It's all the work of Steve Flanagan, who has found that Everton took part in the very first penalty shoot-out of any European competition. Name that game!

Rooney Scores as Everton win away!
13 Dec - David Moyes rings the changes at Fratton Park, with Pistone and Watson back in the team. Rooney, Jeffers, McFadden and Li Tie on the bench. But it was business as usual when Pompey went ahead after 20 mins with an offside goal from Jason Roberts. Then Watson was forced off with an injury, replaced by Rooney, and Everton were soon level following great work from Kilbane to set up Carsley. Rooney then got Everton ahead with a left-footed shot deflected into the Pompey net.  Everton played a solid second half to secure their first away victory of the season!  EXCELLENT!

If...
11 Dec - If only we could keep our heads... but fear and trepidation are more in keeping for Evertonians facing a tough Christmas season knowing that we very well could find it hard to escape the clutches of the bottom three. Yet, amidst all the doom and gloom, Colm Kavanagh has found inspiration in an unusual quarter, reaping new insight from an old poetic standard.

Moyes: signs of fallibility
10 Dec - Among many Evertonians, it's a hanging offence to dare to question the decisions of Manager of the Year, David Moyes, who is variously burdened with titles such as Messiah and Magician.  Yes, he was last season, but in the here and now it is a very different story and the last few games have unfortunately magnified a side of him we hoped didn't exist: his fallibility.  Peter Fearon cites chapter and verse...

Blues still lack the cutting edge
5 Dec - Two teams struggling for goals ground out an entertaining but frustrating goalless draw which was enough to lift Everton out of the relegation zone on goal difference. The Blues controlled the first half, although City had by far the better chances, but after David Moyes surprisingly removed Rooney at the interval, they lost their direction until a barnstorming last 10 minutes when Thomas Gravesen rolled a measured effort off the post and David Unsworth headed too close to the keeper from close range in the dying moments. Match Report from Julian Cashen.

Heartbreak for Osman
3 Dec - Leon Osman suffered agony from the spot as Everton tumbled out of their bogey competition on penalties to Middlesbrough. Although the plucky young midfielder didn't get his full debut, he came on for the second half of extra time and bravely stepped up to take the Blues' third penalty which Mark Schwarzer saved with his legs. The spirit shown by Moyes's side was the most important thing, however, and although both sides created a hatful of chances (Jeffers the busiest for Everton, Maccarone guilty of worst miss), it was goalless after 120 minutes. 'Boro were faultless from the spot; Gravesen, Unsworth, McFadden and Stubbs' successful spotkicks weren't enough.

Get behind the manager
2 Dec - As Everton slip into the bottom three for the first time in five years, contributors to ToffeeWeb are coming out with full support for manager David Moyes while laying the blame for the current slump squarely at the feet of the players. Chris Cornell is stunned at the criticism aimed Moyes's way, Ken Stewart and Mick Quirke call for respect and loyalty for the boss, while Andy Rowlands offers his rebuttal to Nick Armitage's Losing the Faith piece.

It's Crunch Time... Again
1 Dec - With rumours that he has lost the respect of his spoiled players apparently confirmed by the apathetic display at Bolton, the media circling around his perceived problems with Wayne Rooney, and his team thrown into the relegation zone by the weekend's events, David Moyes is under pressure once again. It's high time he weeded out the dissenting voices, got imaginative with his team selections and focused his energies on a consistent line-up centred around his most creative players.

Losing the faith
1 Dec - As Everton's performances on the field seem to be plumbing new depths, we are turning the spotlight on the critical bond that must be relied upon to hold it all together: the bond between manager and players. There is now too much disturbing evidence, however, that this is the point where Everton are falling apart. Something has to change but it appears to be a battle of wills:the players' arrogance or Moyes's managerial dominance?

 

Snippets & Rumours


Unsworth may get his new deal
31 Dec - Everton look likely to relent on their obstinate stance regarding a new deal for David Unsworth, who has been performing well since returning to his 'natural' position of centre-back.

Alexandersson looking at early exit
31 Dec - Initially content to sit out his contract and move for free in the summer, Niclas Alexandersson is now keen on securing a move back to Sweden in the upcoming transfer window.

Chadwick will need surgery
29 Dec - A groin problem will see Nick Chadwick come under the surgeon's knife possibly before his extended loan at Milwall ends in January.

Gravesen: mutual exclusivity
28 Dec - Tommy Gravesen, who oddly believes that Everton have never been relegated, seems to be pledging his next few years to Everton rather than fatherhood. Couldn't he do both?

Mick Rathbon interview
24 Dec - Uefa.com are carrying a Christmas Eve interview with Mick Rathbone, the Everton physio.

Chadwick extends New Den loan
23 Dec - Nick Chadwick will spend another month on loan at Millwall having impressed Dennis Wise at the New Den.

Contract talks put off until summer
23 Dec - Everton have announced that there will be no contract negotiations with current players until the end of the season. That means that the likes of Rooney, Radzinski and Pistone will have to wait until then to discuss extensions to their existing deals.

Pistone struck down again
22 Dec - Alessandro Pistone will be sidelined well into January after badly spraining his shoulder half an hour into the 3-2 win over Leicester. It was only the second game back for the Italian after recovering from double hernia surgery.

Onopko goes elsewhere
22 Dec - Viktor Onopko has rejected both Everton and Bolton and opted for the chance to stay in Russia by signing a one-year deal with Saturn instead.

If you know your history
20 Dec - 125th anniversary (1878 - 2003), but Everton's first game was played on 20th December 1879.... or should that be 23rd December 1879?An update by David Prentice of the Echo adds clarity to the confusion.

Rooney buys luxury Goodison box
19 Dec - Wayne Rooney has slapped sown 29k for one of the few air-conditioned luxury boxes at Goodison Park, so his family and friends can watch him in style.

Watson won't be fit
19 Dec - The thigh strain that Steve Watson picked up early in the game at Portsmouth will keep him out of the squad against Leicester.  Jeffers may miss the game through illness, but Rooney should make another appearance in midfield.

Player of the Month: November
17 Dec - It was a largely unhappy month for the Blues but a couple of players still managed to emerge with some credit, most notably Nigel Martyn who wins our PotM vote for the second successive month.

Gemmill goal clinches trophy
17 Dec - A stunning Scot Gemmill strike against Tranmere was enough to clinch the 2002/03 Liverpool Senior Cup and advance the Blues to this season's semi-finals.  The bizarre double came about because last season's competition was delayed by fixture congestion.  Report from Steve Milne.

Moyes admits interest in midfielder
17 Dec - David Moyes has confirmed his interest in Strasbourg's Christian Basilla, saying he is one of a number of players he's looking at, although there was no confirmation that Everton are looking to offer Alex Nyarko as a straight swap.

Weir back in training
16 Dec - David Weir is set to return to training this week after being sidelined since September with a knee ligament injury.

Pompey goal clearly offside
16 Dec - David Moyes is rightly upset that the only goal scored against Everton in the last four games was clearly two yards offside.

Another seven weeks for Wright
16 Dec - Richard Wright will be sidelined until February after having a third operation on his troubling knee.

Dunc can still lead the line
15 Dec - Duncan Ferguson is still capable of leading the Everton Squad... in partying around the night-spots of Glasgow.

Yobo's stint shortened
15 Dec - Joseph Yobo will not be joining Nigeria's pre-tournament training camp this week, giving Everton a couple more chances to play him before he leaves for the African Nations Cup in January.

Rooney pushes his luck
14 Dec - As expected, the headline writers have another Rooney incident to focus on.  Ironically, one could look at this as an example of good judgement by Uriah Rennie, who may be showing signs of improvement as a referee.

Martyn inspired for the fight
13 Dec - Nigel Martyn talks to The Guardian and admits "If we implemented everything that the gaffer works us on, we wouldn't be where we are."

Onopko may still come
12 Dec - Although the rumour was that Onopko wanted a lot longer contract than the one on offer, he may still accept a deal that would bring him to Goodison until the end of the season, so says the Echo.

Watson ready for action
11 Dec - Steve Watson is keen to get back into the Everton team, where he can hopefully recreate his goalscoring exploits. It's an Everton team where spirit is not a problem and they train hard... Funny how the players now seem to be making a point of repeating this mantra at every opportunity...

Explaining Everton
11 Dec - Stephen Orford is one of many who thought Everton would do much better this season. He was bold enough to predict this to his editor at SquareFootball.net. Now he's not so sure...

Attend a Legends phone-in
10 Dec - Century FM on 105.4 MHz will have a Legends Football Phone In LIVE from Goodison Park, at 6pm on Thursday 11 December 2003.  For FREE tickets call 0870 442 1054 spaces available bring the lads for an early Xmas night out and meet Everton Legend, Graeme Sharp!

No Radzinski talks until the summer
10 Dec - Everton have confirmed that no talks with Tomasz Radzinski concerning a contract extension will take place until the end of the season. The 30 year-old's current deal expires in 2005 but there is rumoured interest from Blackburn and Aston Villa in his services.

No go for Onopko
10 Dec - Viktor Onopko has returned to his native Russia after just a day's trial at Bellefield, ending David Moyes's hopes of signing him as cover for Joseph Yobo.

Reserves go down to City
9 Dec - Goals by Duncan Ferguson and Scot Gemmill weren't enough to prevent the second string, boasting an experienced line-up, from losing 3-2 away to Manchester City.  Sean O'Hanklon and Steve Watson were both playing again after recovering from hernia problems.  Steve Milne was there reporting for us.

Ratcliffe evokes fond memories
9 Dec - Kevin Ratcliffe harks back to Everton's glory days in the 1980s admitting that he often forgot the score after the Blues had scored three or more and that there some games he knew they'd win before a ball was kicked. Aaaah, what we'd give for a return to those days...

Kenwright's support for Rooney
9 Dec - Bill Kenwright expresses his concern in The Echo that Wayne Rooney is the only one being hurt by the national media's obsession with his loss of club form and need to leave Goodison for the sake of his career.

Player of the Month: November
9 Dec - Most of the players are doing their best to count themselves out for the title of Player of the Month so November will be another difficult choice. Take up the challenge and vote now.

'Always listen to Scottish managers'
9 Dec - After The Times  joined the pathetic harping at Wayne Rooney and his relationship with David Moyes, Henry Winter offers a wonderful piece in The Telegraph brimming with common sense and a few home truths for the players.

More stirring from Capeling
8 Dec - Len Capeling in The Echo makes yesterday's game sound like torture as he does his best to convince us that the team couldn't pass straight all afternoon. Do you actually watch  the game, Len?

Stubbs' side-swipe at fans
7 Dec - Alan Stubbs says that the players aren't feeling the tension of being at the bottom of the league but complains that "it doesn't help if there's tension [among the fans]." Perhaps the players need to feel a little tension, Alan.

Familiar FA Cup foes
7 Dec - Everton have been handed a home tie — and possibly a good omen — against Norwich City in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. They overcame the Canaries at Goodison on their two most recent trips to the Final, 1-0 in the semi final of 1989 and 5-0 in the 5th Round in 1995.

More thoughts on The Boy's needs
7 Dec - More discussion in today's Observer about the need to guide Wayne Rooney's development in the game. Ian Ridley brings together a number of themes that have been doing the rounds recently.

Wright in recovery until January
6 Dec - Richard Wright will be sidelined until the New Year as he recovers from the surgery he had this week in the United States on his injured knee.

Moyes runs rule over Onopko
4 Dec - Highly experienced Russian defender Viktor Onopko will train with the Blues at Bellefield this week with a view to signing on loan until the end of the season. Russia's captain, 34, will be brought in to cover Joseph Yobo's African Nations Cup duty.

Good spirit and no blame
4 Dec - Francis Jeffers talks earnestly about the positive spirit in the Everton camp, and the reaction after losing the penalty shoot-out after playng so well as a team last night despite Franny missing at least 3 golden chances. David Moyes confirms it was he who chose the penalty takers and absolved young Leon Osman of any blame for what is ultimately a lottery.

FA Youth Cup Blues
3 Dec - Everton's youngsters dropped out of the FA Youth Cup at the first hurdle in a difficult encounter with Coventry City in the Third Round. Italian hot-shot Patrizio Pascucci made his Youth Cup bow but was subbed after an hour, Everton eventually succumbing to a goal in the 84th minute.  Final: Coventry City 1 - 0 Everton.  Details from Steve Milne.

Osman to get his chance?
2 Dec - There are indications that Leon Osman could finally be rewarded for all his great work in the Reserves; he appears likely to get his full debut at Middlesbrough on Wednesday night. Yobo is also doubtful (ricked neck), Kilbane is cup-tied, and Campbell, Ferguson, Pistone, Watson, Gemmill and Weir are all out injured.

Rooney needs time and support
2 Dec - The media may be dwelling on the apparent detente between Moyes and Rooney, including Dominic Fifield's latest piece in The Guardian, but what The Boy really needs is fewer outside distractions and less pressure to perform.

Moyes reassessing Rooney's role?
1 Dec - With plenty of column inches devoted to Wayne Rooney's recent form and his reaction to being substituted on Saturday, David Moyes has hinted The Boy may be rested a bit in the coming weeks.

Pistone suffers another setback
1 Dec - Just when we need him the most, Alessandro Pistone will return to Milan tomorrow facing the possibility of further surgery on his troublesome groin.

Duo return from loan spells
1 Dec - Paul Gerrard resumes his place in the line of 5 goalkeepers at Goodison after his loan spell at Sheffield United expired. Meanwhile, youth prospect Steven Schumacher is also back from his month-long loan at Carlisle United.

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