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Howard To Leave Everton


Tim Howard

Tim Howard will leave Everton for Colorado Rapids at the end of the season.

The American goalkeeper has signed a pre-contract agreement with the Major League Soccer side and is to join in July once their transfer window opens.

Howard, 37, is to end a 10-year long association with the Blues and return home on a deal lasting until 2019.

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Everton v Arsenal Preview



Just how do you preview an enigma like Everton?

Some weeks you’re praising them and their potential, then the very next you’re lamenting them for being so brittle.

Maybe we’re just best rolling with them for a while and seeing what happens?

For instance I give you a small challenge: tell me a game where you thought on the balance of play that Everton deserved to get beat this season?

Have a think about it and I’ll come back to it at the end.

Last game out was the quarter final against a Chelsea side unbeaten in domestic competition since Hiddink took over in December. Everton changed that with a really enjoyable two goal win in a tightly fought game. We had too much quality and for them in the end and stood right up to them trying to snide us out of the game, that’s progress indeed. But can we make it stick?

What it means is that we have another semi final to look forward to and a trip down to Wembley for some of you reading this. United or West Ham await on the day and we really need to make it count, semis don’t embellish our honours list too much but it’s nice to see Everton always in the next round of the cup. Just two more games to come and nothing particularly to fear but Everton ourselves.

Away from the cups we could do with some sort of consistency in the league to build some goodwill and excitement amongst the fans (and players) for going into next season. We start that process, hopefully, with a home game against Arsenal.

For too long in recent memory a home game v Arsenal signified us being passed off the pitch and yielding them an easy three points. There’s some notable exceptions like Wayne Rooney putting himself on the map, Andrew Johnson running away in the rain and Lukaku destroying them from wide positions.

Overall though they’ve had our number and it’s understandable as they’ve had much better players, attained with having more money and a much better chance of winning stuff. Does that still feel the same?

In short: they’re the closest thing to kopites that London has to offer with their cringey entitlement and legion of international fans seduced by their “brand” doing all sorts of cry arsing behaviour in and out the stadium that makes you wish for their total and complete eradication. If ever a team screamed sneering at you from a European Super League then it’s Arsenal. They sort of do this now as they qualify for the Champions League every season to validate their existence, not unlike how a certain type of girl who spends too much time in Toni & Guy has to be seen in Prada.

Sadly for Arsenal they totally gubb the Champions League every season, never really getting near winning the thing and normally around the time of that exit they they collapse in the league and have to batter some poor unfortunates in the FA Cup to quell the discontent in their fanbase. They’re very much a stereotype and victim of football in the new millennium. All sat in a stadium that screams corporate and eschewing the very nature of what was proudly the working class game.

I hope Denis Bergkamp gets caught with a hard drive full of animal porn for their next social media meltdown and screaming at fan camera interviews by over fifty something entitled men wearing Adidas Sambas and still thinking they’re a bit tasty. It screams of frustrated impotence.

Get back to Marbella you tragic spunkmonkeys, you’ve drove your tragic wife to a quivering mess relying on a stash of cocaine and 20 Benson & Hedges, and all through your narcissistic behaviour and domestic violence over the years you balding fat obnoxious texan. You should be taking your grandchild for a bike ride and tending to your garden by now. But no, you’re too busying ringing up talksport and staring out students in pubs as it gives you figurative hard on when your wife in suzzies cannot any more, even with the help of a blue pill.

Which leads us nicely onto their players. Here’s a list of some of them:

Giroud: fresh off a boat in a port in the Mediterranean in your chosen holiday destination with a pastel coloured jumper over his shoulders, he clocks your wife but it’s sound as he’s gonna catch herpes from the thousand euro Russian brass he’s hooking up with later, hope she takes a kidney from him too.

Welbeck: if ever there’s a tragedy of everyone telling you you’re boss at footie since you were six years old then this is it

Ozil: eyeball licking attacking midfielder who plays boss one game in five and naturally it’s our turn. Has been subject to claims he can see round corners.

Sanchez: has an expression like he’s heard his mother fart for the first time ever, he’s a neck tattoo away from being Rihanna’s next lover.

Mertesacker – has an adam’s apple so big that pensioners throw black shiny balls at it when he steps on well cut lawns.

Ospina – it’s like someone has done faceswap with a five year old, can only see in 2D due to his eyes being not far apart enough.

They’ve been dumped out of both the FA Cup and Champions League in the past week so that means it’s all systems go in the league. They’ll want to win this and no mistake.

Everton though.

Lukaku has been increasing our anxiety about summer when it’s inevtiable there’ll be interest as sadly that’s how football works now, and even more so with that nugget of his agent handling his affairs. Should just enjoy him for however long we have him, and what a centre forward we have indeed. Like any development process he’s had his lower moments at Everton too but what we are seeing is a fierce all round modern striker emerging from the cystallis. Long may he ruin defences in Everton’s good name.

Barkley had a quiet game against Chelsea but still managed to influence with a couple of key passes leading to goals. He’s been very consistent this season but a splurge of uber form before the end of the season would round off his best season yet. He’ll play with probably Lennon on one side and Cleverley on the other. Tip of the hat to Cleverley for the amount of hard work he put in against Chelsea and that may be his main purpose against the best teams in the division, still would like to see him influence a game more though.

Barry has been a tremendous buy for Everton and at some point we are going to fret over his absence. The obvious option is a midfield two of McCarthy and Besic, and if that can work so effectively? We may be about to find out with Barry’s suspension for two games against difficult opponents.

The season has turned out a bit mad with a player who we were offered £40m sat on our bench. It’s not through any particular lack of his own and he’ll still turn out ace but it’s just that Jagielka and Funes Mori look far more tight at the moment. That’s five goals conceded in eight games, with three of them in the one game.

Baines is welcomed back at left back as for all the options we have he is the best suited there and our only left back with genuine top level class for many years. We could do with someone to really benefit from his vision and movement on that left wing though, Coleman will play right back.

We’ve had to suffer a period where there’s been a whole host of enraged opinion caused by a divisive American battling against long shots, but thankfully Joel Robles seems to have cemented his place in goal.

Did you think about the games we deserved to get beat? I’d guess Man Utd, Arsenal and Spurs are all in your answers. Maybe a few more and you’re probably right, after all – possession and shots on goal are for little unless you make them count.

But there’s not many teams in this league who can claim to be better than us. The margins to the very top are not as insurmountable as they were only a few years ago with all talk of glass ceilings and knives to a gunfight.

There’s a lot of good in this team, I just hope they get to realise it.
Let’s start with Arsenal. Into them blues.

The post Everton v Arsenal Preview appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Martinez Hits Back At Defence Criticism


Everton Manager, Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez has refuted West Ham United’s claims that Everton have a weakness defending crosses.

West Ham striker, Michail Antonio, who scored in West Ham’s 3-2 comeback at Goodison on Saturday, revealed Slaven Bilic instructed his side to exploit what they perceived as a vulnerability in the Blues’ backline.

Martinez said: “It’s easy to talk, especially when you’ve won a game.

“When we were 11 against 11, we were the better team and scored the goal to go ahead. Then we had to change things tactically and with 10 men you wouldn’t have seen a difference – it was like we had the extra man.

“Then we scored another goal from open play and controlled the game completely and never got done on crosses in that period.

“It’s more that we felt we had something to lose. Winning the penalty was a massive high but then missing it was an emotional low, and all of a sudden we gave West Ham momentum that unfortunately they got a big reward from.”

The post Martinez Hits Back At Defence Criticism appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Review: Looking for the Toffees



James Oakley has reviewed Brian Viner’s Everton Book, ‘Looking for the Toffees: In Search of the Heroes of Everton‘. If you’ve read an Everton Book and would like to review it for Evertonians on GrandOldTeam, please send us your review here: Submit Article.

I wasn’t yet born when the 77-78 season kicked off so I was unsure how I would get on with Brian Viners look back at one of his favourite seasons in “Looking for the Toffees“. Although the likes of Bob Latchford, Andy King, and Duncan McKenzie are familiar names to any Evertonian, my earliest heroes are 10 years later when Sheedy, Sharpe and Cottee were the Gwladys street favourites. I needn’t have worried as the book is a much broader look back at football in the late 70’s, an era where George Woods could be found cutting the lawns in your local school, and a time when Bob Latchford winning £10,000 was memorable stuff.


The first interview starts in a pub car park with Bob Latchford and you get an immediate sense of just how different life was as a player in 1978 to modern day. The influx of money with the rise of the Premier League and Sky has created a gulf between players and the fans and set the majority of modern players up for a life where money will never be an issue. This wasn’t the case in the late 70’s where top earners were getting £500 a week and had to think carefully about their lives after football. Not that any of the ’78 squad are on the bread line, infact some have stayed working in football with Dave Jones managing at the top level, and George Wood the goalkeeping coach at Crystal Palace.

As the book progresses and Viner manages to track down the majority of the team you get the sense that although football was very different back then, not one of the players would swap to be a modern pro. The enthusiasm with which they speak about the era makes you realise that although the quality of the game has improved the actual experience of playing, and the relationships between player and fan has gradually eroded leaving a totally different game.

The interviews with Andy King, and Martin Dobson are particular highlights, as 2 completely different personalities remember the highs and lows of the season and the book becomes genuinely laugh out loud funny as they enthusiastically recount stories, and tales from the F Troop days. Every player which contributed speaks highly about the club whether they were true blues like Mike Lyons or more short term like Mike Pejic, and the relationships they had with the fans, and the continued work that the Former Players Foundation does makes you realise the meaning behind “Once a Blue, Always a Blue”

James (@mikesglove)

Looking for the Toffees: In Search of the Heroes of Everton

The post Review: Looking for the Toffees appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Baghdad Bob strikes again?


Roberto Martinez

IN SOME circles Roberto Martinez has become known as Baghdad Bob.

That was the name the Americans gave to the Iraqi Information Minister when they were invading Baghdad.

Remember him? Little guy with a cap who used to say more and more preposterous things as the war went on. We called him Comical Ali.

He was relentlessly positive, even in the face of crushing defeat. He would tell you how the brave Iraqi forces were repulsing the cowardly invader even when they were in full retreat.

Martinez is relentlessly positive too. He’ll tell you his players have put on a brave, outstanding performance even when they’ve just blown a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home.


He’s so positive so often that the next time he calls one of his players world class, it’s a fair bet few will listen. In the same way, his excuses are starting to get ignored too.

He chose to explain Everton’s defeat to West Ham by blaming the referee for the soft red card he dished out to Kevin Mirallas.

Instead, many Everton fans quickly piled in to blame the manager, who made a series of substitutions that have been heavily criticised since.

So who was right? Feel free to make up your own mind. But here are some observations after watching it back.

Firstly, the switch to 3-4-3. Maybe Martinez saw how West Ham switching to three at the back stopped Tottenham playing last week by nullifying their full backs, and decided to match up. It’s also possible he fancied having a third centre back as insurance with Barry and Besic not fit to start.

Whatever the thinking, it ended up being a very attacking line-up, with two out-and-out wingers playing narrow, like old-style inside forwards, and wing backs encouraged to overlap. In his defence, it worked too.

To begin with, Everton are well on top, have scored, hit the post and drawn two good saves from Adrian, while Joel Robles has not had one to make.

Then Kevin Mirallas gets sent off. His first booking may have been harsh. There have been worse dives this weekend, some in an attempt to win penalties, that went unpunished. But having been booked, Mirallas was foolish in the extreme to make the tackle which got him sent off. He let his team-mates down. And not for the first time.

But here’s where it gets interesting. To see out the half, Martinez goes to 4-4-1, John Stones moving to right back, with Seamus Coleman in front of him, and Aaron Lennon moving to the left wing.

West Ham almost score immediately, down Everton’s right flank. They survive until half time. But having seen how bad Stones was at right back against Manchester City, it’s no surprise he’s the man brought off at the break, with Mo Besic coming on.

Logically it’s the right call. But instead of slotting Besic into central midfield, his natural position, Martinez plays him on the right. Presumably, he is worried about the threat from Dimitri Payet and wants Besic there as cover. It feels unnecessary, but to start with it works, and keeping Lennon on the left to accommodate it helps create the second goal.

But despite being 2-0 up with just ten men, he lets them carry on going forward when many would shut up shop. This is risky. But again, to begin with it pays dividends when Everton win a penalty. Unfortunately, Adrian makes the save. At this point, a more pragmatic manager would be thinking about protecting a two-goal lead. Not Martinez. Still Everton go forward, opening the game up and testing their legs. They start to tire.

Realising, he makes another sub. An odd one on the face of it. Niasse for Lennon. Now, Lennon had done a lot of running, and was clearly tiring. But instead of bringing a more defensive player on, he chooses to replace him with one who can chase and harry up front. Niasse does just that and quickly wins a free kick deep in enemy territory by chasing a long ball, relieving the pressure. But may would have put Gareth Barry on at this point to close the game down.

Two minutes later West Ham score, from a set piece. James McCarthy heads the first ball clear at the near post, but he and Lukaku (whose legs look gone) can’t get out quick enough to stop the follow-up, which is headed in. It’s Coleman’s wing, but he Michail Antonio, who he is marking, has dragged him to the other side of the box. Clever. But if Everton had had 11 men on the pitch, the extra defender probably means it doesn’t go down like that.

From this point on they start to look ragged. They’re not stopping crosses at all, and quickly let in an equaliser with both Barkley & Oviedo failing to get near the delivery. Having played with a man down for so long, it’s no surprise they’re now struggling to close people down.

Still, it’s 2-2 and a point is better than nothing right? Apparently not for Martinez. You have to admire his optimism in continuing to chase the game, and again it almost pays off when the referee misses a West Ham handball. But opening the game up at this point, with his players clearly struggling for energy, feels suicidal.

He finally does send Barry on, for Lukaku. But West Ham score almost immediately from another cross they can’t stop, and with hindsight that sub came far too late.

So, his last two subs can be questioned certainly. The timing of the last one especially. But the two biggest reasons why they lose are because a) they’re knackered after playing with ten for so long, and b) he still has them going forward when he could (twice) have chosen to settle – at 2-0 up and at 2-2. Being so positive very nearly worked, but ended up being costly.

Baghdad Bob strikes again?

The post Baghdad Bob strikes again? appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Martinez on “the new era” for transfers


Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez has admitted he can increased scope for new transfer signings after the arrival of billionaire investor Farhad Moshiri to Goodison.

Martinez: I wouldn’t say my transfer plans have changed, in the way we work.

“The way we work is to identify the footballers who would fit in with the way we want to play and the way we want to be but, clearly, the new era means we will have to extend the amount of players we can fit in our project.

“It hasn’t changed but what it has done is expanded the area we can look into.”

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