Looking Forward



Premier League

Monday 20th August 2001

Everton have had a hard time of it over the last few years.  Allegedly £10 million in debt, their buying strategy has had to be borne on the back of selling their better players.  With the prospect of a new ground in the King's Dock area of the city on the horizon, perhaps things might be changing for the Toffees, but they have struggled to make more more than a challenge to avoid relegation over the last four seasons and will be hoping to stabilise in mid-table this season.

With young hopeful Jug Ears Jeffers leaving for the other club in North London and the drawn out departure of Michael Ball to Glasgow Rangers (still in the balance as I write), mean that they have lost two of their talented youngsters, with only free signing Alan Stubbs and £4.5 million Canadian Radzinski brought in from Belgium arriving in their place.

With what they have left, they will have to  try and produce a consistently high level of play to ensure that they are not dragged down into the relegation zone.  There is an embarrassment of riches in the goalkeeping department.  Myrhe is one who Spurs tried to get to come to White Hart Lane to cover for Sullivan without luck and he is a sound goalie.  Paul Gerrard is the first choice, but has been known to have lapses at times.  He's a big lad, but appears to fail to dominate his box on crosses and Spurs could capitalise there.  Unfortunately, the £3.3 million signing of Steve Simonsen from Tranmere Rovers has not been the success he hoped for and Everton are looking for a buyer for his services.  A talented young keeper, he may find it possible to thrive in a first team somewhere.

With the aforementioned Ball bouncing out of Goodison, the defence has been left with little true quality.  Stubbs did well in Scotland for Celtic, as did Clelland for Rangers and Weir and Naysmith for Hearts, but alongside Pistone (formerly of Newcastle), Unsworth and Steve Watson (both bought from Aston Villa), there is quantity but not the other necessary Q.  They will play tight and as a unit as there is a method in Smith's defensive play, but the running off the ball will test the concentration of the men who are there to protect their keeper.  Only Xavier stands out from the crowd and that is only because of his bizarre hair style !!

Again in midfield, the story is the same.  Gemmill, Pembridge, Alexandersson, Gravesen, Nyarko.  All well known names now, but not the line-up that would have the opposition quaking in their boots.  Sadly, the one player in this area who would is the one who isn't able to.  Paul Gascoigne - a Spurs favourite - is now a shadow of the player he once was with more problems than appearances on the pitch these days.  His off-field traumas have left him drained and it is sad to see him this way.  I would be so happy if he could get it together on the pitch again - even if it was against Tottenham, because in his heyday, he was a terrific player.

With Cadamateri out of favour at Everton, the bulk of the responsibility for scoring goals has fallen to Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Campbell.  With Ferguson on the treatment table most of the time, Campbell has borne the brunt of the Toffees goal-getting and has done so well.  However, the thinking behind the purchase of Radzinski is to give him the option of a partner.  Ferguson is the big(ger) target man for Campbell to play off or Rad can come in and play off Campbell.  It's mix and match.  Idan Tal came in at the end of last season and scored a lot of goals in Israel before joining the Merseyside outfit and Joe-Max Moore has also scored a good ratio since his introduction into English football, but against top defenders, they may make little impact.

For Spurs and Everton, this will be two games in three days at the start of this season, so expect a few tired limbs out there .  This may mean mistakes occur towards the end of the game, but I am confident enough to think that Tottenham's movement and passing will create enough chances to put Everton away ...

PREDICTION : -  Everton 0  Tottenham 1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Everton  1   Tottenham  1                                     (Half time score 0-1)
Monday 20th August 2001
Weather : -  Cool, but humid
Crowd : -   29,503
Referee : -  Mr. D. Elleray (Harrow)

Scorers : -  Everton   -   Ferguson (pen.) 65 
                  Tottenham -  Anderton 45 


Everton:  Pistone (foul play) 24, Ferguson (dissent) 50, Weir (foul play) 60

Spurs:   Doherty (foul play) 63, Sheringham (dissent) 64, Ziege (dissent) 65, Poyet (foul play) 67


Everton: Gerrard; Pistone, Stubbs, Weir, S. Watson (Moore 74); Alexadersson (Tal 80), Gemmill, Gravesen (Unsworth 44), Pembridge; Campbell, Ferguson.
Unused subs : - Simonsen, Chadwick 

Spurs:  Sullivan; Bunjevcevic, King, Doherty; Ziege, Anderton, Freund (Clemence 77), Taricco; Sheringham, Iversen 
Unused Subs : - Keller, Thelwell, Davies, Perry

With a goal lead at half-time, somewhat against the run of play, the Spurs side looked set to extend their unbeaten run at Goodison Park, but the referee had other ideas to give the home side have more of a chance.

It was a contentious performance by Mr. Elleray, who is more used to telling off schoolboys at Harrow, but ruled the roost with his red cards.  Poyet looked genuinely surprised and I reckon he had a right to as the foul was only worth a yellow, while Doherty looked devastated after having given away a penalty according to the ref and then getting a red card for his trouble.  No wonder Sheringham and Ziege got booked for arguing, although they should know better than to expect a match official to change his mind.  The decisions really took the attention away from a game that promised much, but, like Saturday, didn't deliver.

The game saw chances at both ends, but neither goalkeeper was troubled by shots directly on target.  Alexandersson struck a rising drive from the edge of the box against the bar, while Gerrard suffered a case of the jitters on a Taricco cross that the goalie fumbled just behind the incoming Sheringham.  Iversen was through on goal twice, but as he bore down on the keeper, he was too wide to have a decent angle and pushed the ball past the post on both occasions.  At the other end, Everton's reliance on the high ball into the box left Spurs with neck ache and Ledley King with an experience he will not forget.  However, he withstood the battering that most central defenders get from Duncan Ferguson and came out of the match with a lot of credit.  He was probably preferred there to Bunjevcevic as the Yugoslav does not have a lot of experience of playing against the likes of Fergie and he was pushed out wide left on the defence.  It was a position he didn't look all that confident in and he was subject to that flank being the focus of the Toffees' attacks.  He stuck at it though and a couple of times made inroads into the opposition box and passed very well.

It was a bit of a shock when Spurs scored.  Starting just inside his own half, Darren Anderton began a run that saw him swap one-two's with Poyet and then Sheringham - once, then twice, before prodding the ball through for Iversen, who was just onside.  He shot, but the keeper smothered the ball, which run away from him to the feet of the on-running Dazza, who gleefully poked the ball home from inside the six yard box.  The team looked relieved to have scored their first goal of the season and perhaps it was this euphoria that almost made them subject of the old cliché that you are never more vulnerable than when you have just scored.  The Blues broke away more or less straight from the kick-off and a cross from their left reached Alexandersson on the edge of the box unmarked.  His first time volley skidded along the floor and under Sullivan, but before the ball got to him, the ref's whistle had blown for a mystery infringement.  No-one was quite sure what he had blown for and it was a cause of debate at half-time.  As was the awful tackle that Taricco perpetrated on Thomas Gravesen's right leg.  Tano was over the top and stuck his studs into the Dane's shin, apparently leaving him with a gaping wound.  It was not something that Spurs fans want to see and it left a bad taste in the mouth, as the referee again missed the incident (despite having a clear view) and did nothing.

After the break, the referee seemed intent on balancing things up.  His failure to dismiss Taricco was more than salved when he got out the red card for a non-foul by Doherty on Campbell, who goes down easy for a big man.  So a penalty and a player light with the scores equalised.  Then a minute later Gus had a rush of blood and was joining Doc in the Goodison bath as Elleray tried to play keep up with his card tally.  It was then back to the walls stuff.  Every ball cleared brought a collective sigh of relief, but knowing it was going to come back, it was the ball being passed away to a white shirt that got the biggest cheers.  In fact, the Spurs contingent made a lot of noise tonight and although the home fans were getting excited as they piled players and hail Mary's into the Spurs goalmouth, they rarely got singing.  Funnily enough, Spurs had the best chance of the half before the red card mayhem, with Gerrard again flapping at a Tano cross  and this time it went beyond him to hit Iversen in the stomach and wide of the target.  He just simply didn't read the flight of the ball - a cardinal sin for a striker, who should be exactly where the ball is going to drop.

The defence held out with the help of the remaining players left in front of them, but they were helped by Everton's one-dimensional attacking theory. It wasn't easy for Spurs, but the lack of variation made it bearable.  They must have been delighted to walk off with a point after the preceding half hour.

Two games, two draws, but the side is yet to play.  Some fitness problems and some players still not finding their best form, but a win at Blackburn on Saturday would help boost confidence and give them something to build on.






What else do you want from a match ??  Three points and a decent referee perhaps ??  This game was packed with incident, but it left you with a good feeling that Spurs managed to hold out for a point and also an emptiness that an experienced referee had spoilt a Premiership match in such a fashion.

He missed Taricco's awful over-the-top tackle on Gravesen, which nobody could have moaned about if he had received a red card.  He missed the fact that Doherty did very well to shepherd Campbell (what is it with that name) away from danger and not give away a penalty, only to find that the Irishman had a penalty awarded against him.  And a red card was waiting once he had got up.  Then came the second of two red cards in two minutes for Spurs when Poyet lifted his leg across Watson a the ball was pushed past the Uruguayan.  It was a rash challenge and was quite unprofessional whether or not he should have got a red card as brandished by David Elleray.  It looked high and that was probably why the ref did so.  The official also managed to conjure up an offence when a cross reached Alexandersson at the far edge of the penalty box and he volleyed home.  Sullivan might not have tried as hard as he would have done, had he not heard the early whistle.

In between the spotlight being on the whistle happy man in black the action ebbed and flowed with Everton pumping high balls into the Spurs box regularly to try and find the head of Duncan Ferguson.  He did win a few in the first half, but most of the headers flew harmlessly to Sullivan.  Alexandersson had already given Spurs due warning when he fired a far post shot against the angle of bar and post and Spurs were lucky it bounced out and was cleared.  Spurs had nearly gone into the lead early on, when a cross from Taz on the right was fumbled by Gerrard and the ball went behind Sheringham.  The keeper did the same thing in the second half, when the ball dropped behind him and hit Iversen, who wasn't reading the situation quickly enough and instead of trying to poke it in with a part of his body, it bounced off him and a foot wide of the post.

The Norwegian had two chances as he ran through the Toffees defence in the first period, but dragged both wide.  It was only when Anderton exchanged passes with Poyet and then Ted twice, before slipping the ball through to Ivo, that Spurs took the lead.  Even then, his shot was saved and Dazza had had the presence of mind to follow up and stuck it into the net from three yards out.  It was almost straight from the re-start that Everton had their goal disallowed for a foul on a Spurs defender, which was news to just about everyone in the stadium.

In the second half, Spurs did not really threaten the Everton goal seriously and the pay was going towards the Spurs goal, although little forced Sully to make a save.  The penalty was the turning point, as it led to two sendings off, two bookings and the equalising goal.  After Spurs were reduced to nine men, Everton rarely looked like scoring.  Their tactic of flinging crosses in to the big man were thwarted by Ledley King and most of their efforts on goal were high and wide.  

Tottenham's problem was that even when they had eleven man, they kept giving the ball away.  The disciplined passing that had been displayed in pre-season matches went out of the window as short balls found only blue shirts and players did not get back quick enough to defend.  That left big holes down the Spurs left that Everton exploited, especially as Bunjy was played as the left of the back three - not his usual position.  Teddy was one of the main culprits, but he was not alone.  I can understand the thought behind clearing the ball as far away as possible when they were up against it at the end, but it just kept coming straight back.  Surely, it would have been better to try and hold the ball in a position further up the field.  Easy to say, I know, but at least then it might have been kept away from the last third of the pitch nearest our goal.

We all expected Poyet to get sent off at some stage (the way he had been "enforcing" in the friendlies), but not quite like tonight.  Gus didn't have his best game even before the red card, while Anderton buzzed about, but was mostly ineffective.  Iversen made some strange choices when he had the ball and seemed to be lost in the movement of the rest of the team.  The defence were about the best part of the side and worked tirelessly to defend what the team had.  Only Taricco should hold his head in shame.  He never seemed like that sort of player and full credit to Glenn in not taking the Wenger way out by saying he DID see it and told the player that he was not happy about tackles like that.  This is the sort of honesty we want coming out of all parts of the club, not just the team  management.

In the end, you had to be glad for a point, but the implications of Elleray's actions will hit us in a few weeks if he does not review the punishment dished out to the Spurs players dismissed after watching video evidence.


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