What The Papers Say - Jan 23

by Matthew Judge

The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.



West Ham have won the race for Senegalese striker Demba Ba – despite a late bid by Everton boss David Moyes.

Struggling Hammers will clinch a deal worth up to £5million for the Hoffenheim rebel who wanted to join them despite growing rival interest.

Ba has a knee problem and that saw him fail a medical at Stoke last week and the Hammers will pay the fee in stages, with the Germans also resigned to letting him leave that way.

The powerful 25-year-old has been in London for most of the past month trying to get a transfer to West Ham while Sunderland were also keen.

Moyes made a dramatic move for Ba – ironically before facing West Ham at Goodison yesterday. He was in talks with his agents about a loan move with a view to a £5m deal.

But Ba wanted to move to London where he has friends and family.



Avram Grant reacted angrily yesterday after Frederic Piqiuonne was sent off for celebrating a goal.

The red card shown to Piquionne by referee Peter Walton, for jumping into the arms of fans in the 84th minute, means he will miss West Ham's Carling Cup semi-final, second leg at Birmingham on Wednesday.

The irony is that Walton hates showing a card for excessive celebrating but the referee had to issue Piquionne with his second yellow and almost buried his head in his hands before doing his duty.

Marouane Fellaini took full advantage to score Everton's injury-time equaliser to leave the Hammers bottom of the Barclays Premier League.

The West Ham manager said: 'For me it's a joke, this red card. Who deserves it more than the supporters when a player goes to celebrate with them?

'This law is stupid and we must change it - this is an emotional game. I celebrated when I scored in a staff game on Thursday. Lucky I didn't get a red card, too.'

The visitors had taken the lead after 27 minutes as the once goal-shy Jonathan Spector found the net for the fourth time in two months but Diniyar Bilyaletdinov came off the Everton bench to level.

The result was yet another blow for Grant, whose position has again been the subject of heavy speculation over the past week.

Yet for most of the game his team, with the returning Scott Parker driving them forward, the visitors acquitted themselves superbly.

The Hammers gave their fans early encouragement as top scorer Piquionne, back in the side after recovering from dental surgery, burst into the area and fired over from a tight angle.

Mark Noble went even closer moments later as he was picked out by Parker on the 18-yard line but his chip just dipped over the bar.

Everton toughened up after those early scares and began to assert themselves more in midfield.

Fellaini exposed the Hammers defence when he played in Jermaine Beckford but the striker's flick back was cleared.

Beckford had an opportunity himself as he raced onto a through-ball from Mikel Arteta but Matthew Upson just did enough to break his stride and Robert Green blocked.

West Ham responded well and snatched the lead as Luis Boa Morte latched onto a Noble pass and squared for the inrushing Spector to slide home from the penalty spot.

It was a goal that lifted the Hammers and, with Parker instrumental, they dictated play for the rest of the first half.

Piquionne was inches away from adding a second as he rose to meet a Spector cross with a firm header that struck the far post and rolled across goal to safety.

Everton survived another scare before the interval as Boa Morte poked the ball past Tim Howard but was adjudged offside.

Everton boss David Moyes decided to change his attack by sending on Saha, fit again after a thigh strain, for Beckford at half-time.

The hosts enjoyed prolonged spells of possession as the second half got under way but were unable to prise open West Ham's hard-working defence.

Wayne Bridge, after a much-criticised debut last week following his loan move from Manchester City, seemed assured up against the threat of Seamus Coleman on the Everton right.

Saha appealed for a penalty after a challenge from James Tomkins but referee Peter Walton gave nothing.

West Ham caught Everton on the counter-attack as Parker charged through midfield but Howard comfortably dealt with his long-range shot.

Zavon Hines also went close with an acrobatic attempt to turn in a Spector cross but his volley flashed wide.

At the other Saha threatened after being picked out by Leon Osman but the Frenchman got the ball caught under his feet and was unable to shoot.

Everton pulled level 13 minutes from time as Bilyaletdinov, sent on for the ineffective Victor Anichebe eight minutes earlier, beat Green with a fierce drive.

Fellaini rose the highest to meet Phil Neville's cross and his nod down was helped into the Russian's path by Piquionne.

Bilyaletdinov, who has been challenged to fill the boots of the departed Steven Pienaar, made no mistake as he caught the ball with a sweet half-volley into the bottom corner.

Coleman could have added a second moments later as he cut inside from the right but shot narrowly over.

Green then produced a brilliant save to deny Saha from close range and Coleman put the rebound over the bar.

But as the Toffees pressed for a winner, they were caught by a sucker punch.

Bridge found room on the left to swing in a cross and Piquionne jumped to place a looping header over Howard and into the top corner.

The downside for Piquionne - who had been booked four minutes earlier - was that in his jubilation he jumped the advertising hoardings and was shown a second yellow card.

Everton manager David Moyes admitted: 'That sending-off gave us impetus and the chance to throw the kitchen sink at them, which we did. Celebrating should be allowed, but we know the rules.'

West Ham attempted to play safe by substituting substitute Freddie Sears, who had been on the field just nine minutes, and sending on defender Winston Reid.

It proved to no avail as Fellaini jinked his way into the area in injury time to secure a point for Everton.



BY rights this should have been Avram Grant’s frowning glory after a season with nothing to smile about.

Not that the West Ham boss does much of that anyway. It’s not in his nature to grin and bear it even after what he’s been through.

Yet Grant should have been allowed an inward chuckle to celebrate a deserved victory.

Instead it was Marouane Fellaini smiling with an equaliser deep into added time.

Grant must have thought his luck had turned as his midfield duo of Scott Parker and Mark Noble boosted a dispirited camp with two great performances.

Jonathan Spector gave Grant and West Ham a huge early lift only for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov to equalise nine minutes after coming on as substitute.

Frederic Piquionne restored West Ham’s lead in the 84th minute but he jumped into the crowd to celebrate, received a second yellow card and was sent off.

And then came that Fellaini leveller that was a real heartbreaker for the Hammers.

The first half belonged to West Ham. They rocked Everton back on their heels after just six minutes when Piquionne steadied himself before driving high over the bar.

West Ham’s breakthrough came after 26 minutes.

Noble brilliantly slipped through on the left to Luis Boa Morte who drew keeper Tim Howard before pulling back for Spector to hammer home.   

And there could have been further punishment for Everton seven minutes before the break when Spector crossed for Piquionne whose stooping header hit the foot of the post.

Everton boss David Moyes withdrew below-par Jermaine Beckford at half-time to throw on Louis Saha to add a bit of quick thinking up front.

But still the Everton front men struggled to break down West Ham’s defence.

But Everton grabbed an undeserved equaliser after 77 minutes when the ball fell to Bilyaletdinov who hammered into the bottom corner.

Suddenly Everton burst into life and Saha spun and shot for goal only for keeper Robert Green to pull off a remarkable save. Seamus Coleman, following up and spooned over.

But then Piquionne headed in a beauty before heading for the tunnel in the blink of an eye.

The drama didn’t end there. Fellaini scored an incredible equaliser as he rammed his shot into the bottom corner. What a sickener for Grant.



West Ham were seconds from a morale-boosting win as Avram Grant began his attempt at the greatest comeback since Lazarus.

Well, maybe not quite – but he looked on course for three priceless points from Goodison when Frederic Piquionne gave his boss an 84th-minute 2-1 lead.

However the win slipped from Grant’s grasp as Piquionne was sent off for his over-exuberant celebrations with the Hammers fans before Marouane Fellaini’s injury-time equaliser.

Just last week Grant was considered a dead man walking and the less-than-flattering obituaries were being written.

The furore it caused had prompted West Ham’s Iron Lady Karren Brady to use her newspaper column to deny any alleged involvement in the coup.

So Grant has remained. Bloodied, but still there.

The Hammers boss said: “I am very proud of what I saw today from the players, as it was not an easy situation.

“We dominated the game first half and we should have scored another goal. We hit the post and had a goal ruled out for offside.”

It was the street-fighting spirit that David Moyes has fostered within his team which salvaged a point.

Moyes said: “I didn’t think we were up to it in the first half but I have to give them credit for coming back. I thought that when we got to 1-1 we would go on and win the game but the second goal destroyed that idea.”

Yet, for all the positives West Ham will extract from this game they remain bottom.

The green shoots of a recovery were seen, however, and appreciated by the travelling fans who chanted Grant’s name.

West Ham took the lead after 26 minutes.

Mark Noble played a ball inside Phil Neville for Luis Boa Morte who pulled it back to the penalty spot for Jonathan Spector to side-foot home.

Everton had not lost against the visitors in their last eight games but Matthew Upson dominated Jermaine Beckford and his performance magnified the Toffees’ flaws in attack and need for a striker.

His one sight of goal was shut down by James Tomkins after Mikel Arteta’s pass.

Indeed, had it been for a bit more luck the Hammers would have gone in at the interval two goals to the good when Piquionne’s glancing header from Spector’s cross came off the post.

Everton missed the creative talents of Steven Pienaar, sold to Spurs, and Tim Cahill, away on international duty.

On as second-half substitutes, Louis Saha provided a focal point for the attack and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was a threat.

And the latter’s sweet strike from the edge of the box after 77 minutes brought his team parity after West Ham failed to clear a Neville long ball.

Moyes said: “I don’t know if it’s a solution to Pienaar but he took the ball brilliantly with his bad foot.”

However, with six minutes to go, it was Piquionne who met Wayne Bridge’s inviting cross to glance his team in front. The Frenchman was subsequently booked – his second of the game – and sent off for his celebrations.

Then Fellaini struck deep in injury time – with a right-footer from 10 yards – to salvage an unlikely point.



Fortune really does seem to hide from Avram Grant. For so much of this match, it appeared that the apparently dead man walking would have reason to depart with a spring in his step.

A week ago, it looked like Grant’s reign could end at any moment only for Martin O’Neill to back away from replacing him at Upton Park.

West Ham did not look like the Premier League’s bottom club, taking the lead through Jonathan Spector and recovering from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s equaliser when Frédéric Piquionne restored the advantage with four minutes left.

But, this being West Ham, good times are generally followed by bad, and swiftly. Just booked, Piquionne jumped over the barriers to celebrate with the visiting fans, earning himself a second yellow card.

The Frenchman had also been vital to his team’s defensive effort, seemingly winning everything in the air at set-pieces, and Grant must have despaired when Marouane Fellaini drove in a second equaliser in the first minute of added time.

Piquionne misses the Carling Cup semi-final, second leg against Birmingham on Wednesday through suspension, as does Victor Obinna. Carlton Cole is doubtful with a calf problem that kept him out yesterday.

Grant said: “I’m very proud of what I saw. It wasn’t easy in this situation. We missed players again but they showed a lot of good spirit and good football and a tactical awareness. From the start of the season, with everything that’s happened, they have shown a lot of commitment.

“For me the red card is a joke. I know this is the law but the law is stupid and we need to change it.Maybe people should shake hands and say 'thank you’. It’s an emotional game and when I score goals in the staff games on a Thursday I celebrate but I don’t get booked for it.”

It was only his third visit to Everton as a manager but Goodison Park has been a checkpoint of significance in an increasingly bizarre managerial career.

During his short tenure with Chelsea, the stadium was the stage for a bizarre press conference after a 1-0 victory, with Grant mumbling one-word answers as a sort of protest. A low-key 1-0 defeat here on the final day of last season marked relegation for Portsmouth under the Israeli.

For a variety of reasons, Grant’s career must have him feeling like an unwelcome visiting relative. No sooner had he taken charge of Chelsea, Portsmouth and now West Ham, he has everyone wondering how long he would stick around.

The way his team played should give Grant hope but the manner of their late surrender can bring only more doubt. Despite the shenanigans of last weekend, he has the public backing of West Ham’s board, but it seems unfeasible that he will survive beyond the end of the season.

West Ham were well worth their lead, earned when Mark Noble rolled the ball to Luís Boa Morte behind Seamus Coleman and the Portuguese’s pull-back was thumped home by Spector for only his second Premier League goal.

With Everton unable to retain possession, the visitors should have been out of sight by half-time. Piquionne saw a header come back off the post and Boa Morte had an effort ruled out

The hosts looked to have run out of ideas when Phil Neville pumped a long ball into the area, Fellaini headed down and Bilyaletinov’s shot beat Robert Green.

Still West Ham came back and after Wayne Bridge’s corner was not cleared, his cross from the right was headed in from close range by Piquionne.

There was time for Everton to strike back again when Jack Rodwell knocked down for Fellaini to score but there were still boos from the home fans at the final whistle.

“I have to give them credit for coming back,” Everton manager David Moyes said. “We’re trying a different system just now.”



There is stupidity and then there is football. There were five minutes remaining when Frédéric Piqui-onne's header looped over Tim Howard to restore West Ham's lead. The Frenchman, who already been booked, then rushed into the seething mass of supporters in the Bullens Road end, for which he was inevitably shown a second yellow card. West Ham had to see out the final few minutes with 10 men, and Marouane Fellaini's turn and shot in stoppage time ensured they remained bottom of the Premier League.

It is impossible to say whether West Ham would have held on had their centre-forward remained on the pitch, but Piquionne's absence did not help and he will miss the second leg of West Ham's Carling Cup semi-final with a Birmingham side who have issues of its own after yesterday's disembowelling by Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford. Avram Grant confirmed there was little chance of Piquionne's potential replacement, Carlton Cole, recovering from injury in time. So the choice of leading West Ham's attackis down to Freddie Sears, who was replaced after nine minutes yesterday, and the underperforming, overweight Benni McCarthy.

When in 2008 Grant came to Goodison while his future as Chelsea manager looked as black as the shirts he favours, he chose to answer virtually every question with a simple "Yes" or "No". This time, after a performance that was unrecognisable from the sleepwalk his players produced against Arsenal on the day it seemed clear that he was to be sacked and replaced by Martin O'Neill, he was rather more animated.

"For me it's a joke, this red card," he said of Piquionne's dismissal."He scored a goal and went to celebrate with the supporters, and the supporters deserve to have a player celebrate like that with them. Maybe people should shake hands and say 'Thank you'?"

After the board's botched attempt to remove him, the West Ham co-owner David Sullivan, who watched this game in a bearskin hat and Russian military greatcoat, issued the kind of statement beloved by Pravda at its most Stalinist: "The entire board is 100 per cent behind Avram. West Ham United is a club that does the right thing and at this time that is to support the manager."

However true this was, West Ham so completely outplayed Evertonthat the home side were jeered offat the interval. The visitors' football was everything it had not beenagainst Arsenal, epitomised by the opening goal.

Mark Noble's wonderfully judged pass let Luis Boa Morte loose down the left flank. He outpaced Leighton Baines and pulled the ball deepinto the area where, with Howardstranded, Jonathan Spector, the centre-back turned midfielder whose goals had inflicted Manchester United's only defeat of the season, thundered the ball home with a swing of hisright foot.

But for the post that met a diving header from Piquionne, West Ham might have won the game by half-time. Goodison was, as it has been for much of this season, anxious and angry. "David, they are getting lazy, start shouting at them," came one voice from depths of the Main Stand.

Everton are not lazy, but none of their strikers has functioned properlyin this fractured campaign and of their midfield, Steven Pienaar has been sold before he walked out on the club and Tim Cahill is in Qatar, playing for the Asian Cup with Australia.

Moyes may well have shouted at his footballers in the home dressing-room at half-time. Certainly, they were a different, more aggressiveside afterwards, and when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov lashed home his shot from the edge of the area into the depths of Robert Green's net, the Everton manager thought his team would go on to win.

Instead, when Wayne Bridge, who had a rather better game than his catastrophic debut at Upton Park last Saturday, delivered a perfectly measured cross to Piquionne's head it seemed Moyes would suffer a defeat as embarrassing as the 4-1 humbling by West Bromwich Albion in November. But then the celebrations began.

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