Saturday 17th August 2002
The start of a new season
and a trip to the North West to face the Toffees. Both sides have
seen better days and both have lived up to their reputations of big
spending clubs better than they are doing at the moment.
Walter Smith had little money to spend, but the purse strings have been loosened a bit for new manager David Moyes. Incoming players include Joseph Yobo from the Nigerian World Cup team, along with the two World Cup Chinese Li's - Tie and Weifeng. A Brazilian striker Rodrigo has been added to the squad and keeper Richard Wright has seen sense and left Arsenal for Goodison. Some players have had to make space for the new arrivals, so out have gone Gazza, Ginola, Blomqvist, Nyarko, Cleland and Cadamarteri.
The new Everton are looking to play more football and that was a trademark of Preston under Moyes. There are a number of hard working midfielders at the club, but little in the way of explosive pace or imaginative creation. Usually, the ball is aimed at Duncan Ferguson's head, but as he will not be fit, there will have to be another way. Rodrigo is quite tricky and Kevin Campbell powerful, so they might hit it off.
As good as a new signing, but not costing any money, is youth team striker Wayne Rooney. Having seen him play for FA Youth Cup side, he looks strong enough and aggressive enough to play in the first team. However, his good form in pre-season friendlies might not translate to the Premier League where it gets serious. No doubt one for the future and physically, you wouldn't imagine he is a 17 year old.
The main danger will probably come from set-pieces with the tall defenders coming forward to threaten in the air. We now have some strapping defenders, so as long as they don't fall asleep, they should be big enough to ward off the aerial threat. But Weir, Stubbs and Unsworth will all have to be watched.
It will be a match where the midfield will decide it. We are lacking a natural goalscorer and they a natural creator, so something will have to give. Our light-weight midfield might need to work doubly hard against the physical presence that the ball winners in the Everton midfield provide. Whatever happens, it won't be pretty, as both teams emphasis will be on keeping it tight to make sure they don't lose the first game of the season.
Prediction : - Everton 1 THFC 1
|For more information on our opponents, click here|
|Everton 2 Tottenham 2 (Half time: 1-0)|
|Saturday 17th August 2002|
|Venue : Goodison Park|
|Kick off : 3.00 p.m.|
|Weather : Sunny, bright, dry.|
|Crowd : - 40,120|
|Referee : N. Barry (Scunthorpe)|
Everton - Pembridge 38, Radzinski 82
(unsporting conduct 86)
Everton : Wright,
Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Naysmith, Tie Li (Rodrigo 76), Gravesen,
Pembridge, Radzinski (Unsworth 84), Campbell, Rooney (Alexandersson 67)
: Keller; Gardner, Bunjevcevic, Richards; Carr (Thatcher 46),
Davies, Taricco, Redknapp, Etherington; Sheringham,
(Ferdinand 73), Iversen (Acimovic 84)
Everton - Blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks
Tottenham - White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with blue turnover
For a player who doesn't get in the team that much, scorer Matthew Etherington set the pulses racing as he hared down the wing in the heat of the Goodison sun to earn Spurs a share of the points on the opening day.
His lack of opportunities in the first XI has made him put in a transfer request (which has been refused), but he did exactly what Hoddle said after the game and looked a much better player after the goal. His crossing improved markedly and his confidence to take players on rose with the temperature.
But things started off so differently for Spurs. in the first half, they went missing as the three forwards in the Everton side pulled Tottenham all over the width of the Park. The goal was an example, with Taricco getting caught too far upfield, by a quick ball to Radzinski. It was fed into Boy Wonder Wayne Rooney and his lay off left Pembridge with a straight shot coming in from their left wing. The power of the shot beat Keller, after Richards couldn't get across to cover quickly enough.
Until that point, it had been a bit of a grind, with both sides faltering as the move approached the box. The only scares came from Everton corners and they struggled with the height of the Blue shirted players in the area. Carr was on hand on one occasion and Keller's hand was enough on another.
Meanwhile at the other end, Richard Wright must have been enjoying the sunshine, as there was little directed at him with any threat. Perhaps he got a bit too much of the sun as in the second half he failed to rise to the occasion when required.
Then, right before half-time, Carr tried to prevent Rooney getting away and tore a hamstring, putting him out for 4-6 weeks. Great !! The second half saw a reshuffle with Thatcher coming on and going in a left back, with Taricco moving over to the right.
The main action involved the Wonder Wayne, who hit a shot after being presented with the ball 25 yards out. Keller tipped the ball over and was next called on to rush out at a forward's feet to prevent another opportunity. Hoddle claimed that the passing had been poor in the first half and it looked as though the players had taken his team-talk on board, but the equaliser had a bit of fortune about it. Davies run on the right ended with a Toffee challenging him, with the ball running out to Redknapp. Stepping over the ball, he moved to a more central position and slid the pass out left to Matty, who hit the ball in his stride and left Wright palming at fresh air as the ball ripped past him into the net.
Redknapp was running the midfield now and making Spurs move forward. After Alexandersson shot across the face of the goal, Les replaced the ineffective Teddy and his bogey team regretted that Hod had finally made the decision he so regularly fails to make ... to take Sheringham off. Within seconds, the ball flew to Ferdinand, who played a one-two with Iversen. He got the ball, turned quickly and hit an early shot round the defender in front of him. It was one that Wright must have seen late as he proceeded to dive over it and let it in to give Spurs the lead. Not for the first time, Les enjoyed a goal against Everton !!
The Spurs contingent couldn't believe their luck and had a right go at the unfortunate ex-Gooner. But they spoke too soon, as, with time running out, Thatcher got caught on the left side and Campbell set Radzinski away down the line. Moving infield, he turned into the box and dumped Richardson the seat of his pants and fired past Keller at his near post. 2-2.
Not much happened before the end to thrill the 40,000 plus crowd, but they had enjoyed their day in the sun and both sets of fans went home satisfied that they had not lost. It was also a decent game of football, with both sides giving it a go, although not blessed with the best players in the League.
For Spurs, Redknapp's good showing hints
at things to come if he can stay fit, while Gardner shone in defence and
Matty on the wing, once he got a head of steam behind him. The
worry is again letting a lead slip and the gaps that appeared in the
back three with no defensive midfielder coming back to cover.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - MATTHEW ETHERINGTON
|WHO NEEDS A STRIKER ?|
Billy Blunder, the new Everton keeper,
allowed Tottenham to grab a point at Goodison Park today, where the club
celebrated being in the top flight for 100 years. Tottenham's two
shots on target produced two goals, so when Glenn Hoddle goes looking for
a new forward, they are going to have to be pretty good to match this
But then we won't be playing against Blunder every week, worst luck. He gave us a point last season when he smuggled Poyet's volley into the net when he was the Arsenal keeper, but Billy excelled today. He stood rooted to the spot as Ethers unleashed a shot from just inside the box and then, when Les had been on for just a few seconds, he managed to avoid getting a decent hand to it as it crept inside the post to give Spurs the lead. He really was our man of the match.
The first half demonstrated all that was bad about Spurs. Sloppily passing the ball and not holding it up, they allowed Everton to dominate. A string of corners was conceded and Carr had to get one out from under the bar with his head. With three forwards in the side, Moyes had got his side stoked up for the battle and they did get reward for their efforts, when boy-wonder Rooney slid a pass to the left of the box and Pembridge raced in to smack the ball past Keller's right hand. The youngster is as strong as an ox and holds players off with ease, but his strength is knowing where the goal is and it was only Keller's fingertips that denied him after the break. He eventually made way for Alexandersson, while Rodrigo came on to make his debut and the man going off, Li Tie was history.
Hoddle said he told the players to pass the ball better at half-time, which they did do in the second half, even though Carr failed to re-appear, due to a torn hamstring we learned later. However, fellow defender Taricco nodded the ball away from the far post, when a corner was headed goalwards by Stubbs. Redknapp did well on his debut and laid the ball in the same direction as Rooney had to set up Matty to drive Spurs level. Unlike Keller, who at least got airborne, Blunder was still still when the ball hit the net.
Better was to come just after Les came on for Teddy, who failed to impress. Gravesen lost out in a tackle to Bunjy, with the ball flying at Les, he chested it back to Iversen. Stef's firm pass back to Les found him outside the box, but he controlled quickly, turned around his man and seeing a gap, bent a shot towards the right hand post. Blunder dived over the ball and Ferdinand's good scoring record against Everton continues.
Just when it looked like ending in a smash and grab raid, Tottenham's progress was arrested by Radzinski, who cut in from the Tottenham left and left Richards sprawling before shooting inside Keller's near post. It was a poor goal to concede and another few moments of lost concentration left the Canadian with enough space to capitalise.
The parade of old time Toffees made you proud to be a Spur. The names from our illustrious past outshine those of the Blues and although Rooney is undoubtedly a star in the making, the youngsters in the Spurs team outnumber him by about three to one. Neither side will be too disappointed with a draw, but as was mentioned in the Lazio match report, Spurs can't afford to throw away leads ... especially in the manner that this one was.
|Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 0 (Sunday)
|20||West Ham United||1||0||0||1||0||4||0|
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