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What The Papers Say - 12 February

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

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Sunday TelegraphGiven that Roman Abramovich's idea of patience is to allow his manager to board the team bus before informing him he is sacked, Andre Villas-Boas will be relieved to have departed Merseyside still in work.

The reprieve may be temporary. Goodison Park is developing a reputation as a graveyard for Chelsea managers.

Villas-Boas's predecessor, Carlo Ancelotti, was dismissed minutes after the corresponding fixture with Everton last season which Chelsea lost 1-0, a defeat that confirmed the ignominy of the club finishing second.

This defeat meant Villas-Boas's side dropped out of the top four.

Disorganised, limp and passionless would be some of the more charitable observations of the performance. And that was during one of their more encouraging periods.

Fernando Torres was so ineffective there were times when the Evertonians did not even bother booing him.

If there are signs the club owner's faith is dwindling, for once he appears to be a step behind the Chelsea fans, who gave up on their young Portuguese coach after 70 minutes. "You don't know what you're doing," the visitors sang.

That followed what seemed a perfectly reasonable substitution in pursuit of an equaliser when the anonymous Michael Essien was replaced by Florent Malouda.

The same supporters were even less forgiving when their most potent attacking threat, Juan Mata, was replaced by Romelu Lukaku eight minutes later.

"It's part of the job," said Villas-Boas on the reaction of his own supporters. "We are sitting fifth in the league and it's not enough.

"Today was our worst game of the season. Everton were fantastic, but we were short of anything positive. It's a difficult day and there are a lot of negatives to take from it."

Villas-Boas was not the only manager at Goodison whose future is the subject of speculation, with the chain of events which may take Harry Redknapp into the England job being carefully monitored by David Moyes's admirers.

If Everton are dreading a phone call from Daniel Levy about stealing their manager, they will be grateful for the one the Tottenham chairman accepted in the final throes of deadline day.

Moyes was scurrying around for a mobile phone to complete the loan deal for Steven Pienaar, who was desperate to revive his career on familiar ground.

Pienaar scored just twice in 19 appearances for Spurs. He is evidently more comfortable on Merseyside as he struck after five minutes here.

The ball looped into the Chelsea box from the toe of Frank Lampard, and Pienaar pounced, slamming past the advancing Petr Cech. It signalled the start of a terrific performance, with his skill already transforming Everton's style.

He was substituted to a standing ovation shortly after Everton added a second. Landon Donovan fed the enthusiastic Denis Stracqualursi, who nudged the ball beyond Cech.

"It was like he'd [Pienaar] never been away," said Moyes. "Sometimes clubs just fit players."

The frustration for Moyes is that all three of his most outstanding performers are owned by someone else, with Donovan soon to return to LA Galaxy, Pienaar heading back to Spurs in May and Stracqualursi on loan from Argentine club, Tigre.

None of the key participants can be sure where they will be next season. In the case of Villas-Boas, with the warnings from his recent meeting with Abramovich still fresh, the answer could come sooner than he might have feared.

The Observer

A leading London bookmaker refused a £20,000 bet on David Moyes to be the next Tottenham manager on Friday night, in the belief that it was a "done deal". The disappointed punter could well turn his attention to the Chelsea succession after Saturday's events at Goodison, which saw André Villas-Boas told by his own fans: "You don't know what you're doing," and taunted with "You're getting sacked in the morning" by the gleeful home crowd.

We are all probably getting a little bit ahead of ourselves here. There is no vacancy at White Hart Lane for Moyes to take just yet although, in the event of Harry Redknapp replacing Fabio Capello with England, Moyes would become odds-on favourite. Similarly, sources indicated that, despite his recent presence at the training ground, Roman Abramovich is not yet ready to dispense with his young manager. It goes without saying, however, that this most impatient of owners is getting an itchy trigger finger now that Chelsea have dropped out of the Champions League places, after taking three points from their past four games.

Villas-Boas said the vocal criticism was "part of the job", adding: "That was our worst performance of the season. We're sitting fifth in the league and that's not good enough."

Moyes is an acknowledged master of the alchemist's art, turning cheap base material into gold year after year, and no manager is more deserving of a chance with a bigger, wealthier club.

As Villas-Boas pointed out, Everton's success here, like their improvement generally, was the product of the club's latest signings, Steven Pienaar, Landon Donovan and Denis Stracqualursi. All three are only on loan, which is a frustration to Moyes, who said: "Landon is going back [to LA Galaxy] after next week. We haven't got the financial resources others have, so we look to them to get a few results while they are here to get some momentum going." There are no such constraints at Tottenham.

Pienaar, back at Goodison on loan from Spurs, was the man of the match, scoring the all-important first goal in the fifth minute and troubling Chelsea throughout. He struggled to make an impact with Tottenham, but Moyes said: "It was as if he'd never been away. Sometimes clubs suit players and I think that's the case here."

The second goal came from Stracqualursi, borrowed for the rest of the season, from Tigres of Argentina, where he was leading scorer in the league last year.

The early lead that had Everton's confidence coursing came when José Bosingwa's throw-in was headed on by Pienaar, producing a joust for possession between Frank Lampard and Tim Cahill. From their tussle, the ball fell obligingly for the South African to thump the ball into the roof of the net, left-footed, from eight yards. Without John Terry, who was nursing a knee injury, the Chelsea defence had a soft centre, with David Luiz again resembling a midfielder playing out of position. Why Gary Cahill remained rooted to the bench is anybody's guess. Answers on a postcard to Disgusted of Siberia.

Chelsea's efforts were undermined by Fernando Torres's clear lack of confidence, which now borders on the embarrassing. With one opportunity he headed over, with another he ran straight into Marouane Fellaini, appealing almost pathetically for a penalty. At half-time, with no apparent reason he berated the referee, Mike Jones, who had the last word by booking him in the second half for a succession of fouls born of frustration.

With no sign of the goal they needed, Chelsea withdrew Michael Essien and sent on an extra attacker, Florent Malouda - to the high-decibel disapproval of the visiting contingent. They were even more disgruntled two minutes later when Donovan played in Stracqualursi, whose finish was good enough to beat Petr Cech, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball.

Everton were indebted to Tim Howard for a late save from Romelu Lukaku, but a goal would have flattered Chelsea. Unbeaten in their past six, it is the scouse Blues who are looking good.

Independent On Sunday

The previous Chelsea manager to lose at Goodison Park did not get out of the ground with his job intact. That was Carlo Ancelotti on the final day of last season, and although Andre Villas-Boas, his successor, avoided the same fate last night, Chelsea's limp surrender will have done nothing to ease the pressure on the Portuguese. His team have taken only three points from their past four League fixtures and slipped out of the top four with this defeat, behind Arsenal on goals scored.

It was the last thing Villas-Boas would have wanted after a week in which the club's owner, Roman Abramovich made his presence felt at the training ground. The managersaid: "It was one of our worst games of the season - I think the worst. Our performance was short of anything positive, there were a lot of negatives to take out of this game and a lot of things to improve in the FA Cup and Champions' League."

Everton had not scored two goals at home since November yet were comfortable winners, and there was no little irony in the identity of their scorers. Steven Pienaar has not scored a Premier League goal for Tottenham, but his fifth-minute goal on his second Goodison debut, after returning on loan from north London, did his employers at White Hart Lane no harm, as Chelsea slipped 10 points behind third-placed Spurs.

The second goal, meanwhile, came from Denis Stracqualursi, a loan signing from the Argentinian club Tigre, whose impact as a hard-working front-runner contrasted markedly with another insipid showing from the £50 million Fernando Torres. Indeed, for all Chelsea's first-half possession, Tom Howard did not have a serious save to make until he dived bravely at the feet of the substitute Romelu Lukaku late on. Didier Drogba's return from the African Cup of Nations cannot come soon enough.

The sound of the away fans singing: "You don't know what you're doing" after Villas-Boas sent on Florent Malouda for Michael Essien after69 minutes summed up the manager's miserable afternoon. "It's part of the job," he said of the supporters' reaction. "At the moment, we're sitting fifth in the League and it's not enough for us."

For David Moyes, facing his seventh Chelsea manager as Everton's equivalent, this was an afternoon to savour. Everton rediscovered something of their old battling selves in the win against Manchester City in their previous home fixture and this was another display brimming with spirit, endeavour, and ultimately, no little skill. Not least from Pienaar.

Everton's ability to retain possession was diminished by his previous departure. His relish at being back was underlined by a moment in the second half when he danced over the ball before jinking away from Jose Bosingwa.

Moyes said of the South African: "Some of this stuff was terrific. I said to him it's as if he's not been away. Sometimes players fit a club, maybe this just suits him."

Pienaar put Chelsea on the back foot with his early goal. The unwitting assist came from Frank Lampard, whose attempted tackle on Tim Cahill sent the ball spinning into his own penalty box, where Pienaar got in front of Branislav Ivanovic and shot high into the roof of the net at Petr Cech's near post. Chelsea responded with plenty of possession but struggled to pick holes in a well-organised home defence. Juan Mata offered the only moments of incisiveness with passes to Daniel Sturridge and Frank Lampard. Sturridge's shot deflected wide off Phil Neville while Lampard dragged his attempt wide.

The only real moment of anxiety Torres provided came in first-half stoppage time when he went down in the Everton box after a collision with Marouane Fellaini; he appeared to run into the Belgian but remonstrated angrily as he left the pitch.

Things only got worse for Chelsea in the second half as Everton, with Fellaini dominating central midfield, looked for a second. It eventually came through Stracqualursi with 19 minutes remaining.

Neville sparked the move with a crunching tackle on Ashley Cole. Landon Donovan picked the ball up and ran at the heart of the Chelsea defence before slipping the ball through to Stracqualursi, whose low shot struck Cech's left hand on its way into the Gwladys Street net.

"He's old-fashioned, a little bit of huff and puff, but in the end he wore them down," said Moyes of the scorer. Stracqualursi made little immediate impact at Goodison after arriving from Argentina on a season-long loan and can look clumsy, but he proved a constant nuisance to a Chelsea defence still missing John Terry and ensured another headache for their manager.

Sunday Mirror

Andre Villas-Boas had a sense of foreboding even before he stepped into Goodison Park and Everton confirmed his worst fears.

The Chelsea manager seemed obsessed with his club's poor recent Premier League form here and they duly slumped to a third ­consecutive defeat.

Disgruntled Chelsea fans greeted his substitutions with chants of "You don't know what you're doing".

Everton supporters added their own chorus of condemnation: "You're getting sacked in the morning."

That may be unlikely, even from Chelsea's enigmatic owner, with FA Cup and Champions League assignments looming, but the reality is that his club no longer looks a force in the title contest.

They dominated periods of this match without ever ­displaying the power and venom of their heady years.

Fernando Torres is now almost five months into his League drought, but then
he was again given scant service and too many others are playing below an acceptable level of creativity and commitment.

Villas-Boas, reluctant to acknowledge Manchester United's superiority last week, made no attempt to hide from reality this time.

"Today was our worst game in every sense of the word," he said."Everton were ­fantastic and their signings have helped them a lot.

"We were short of anything positive. It was a difficult day. There are a lot of negatives and things to improve on. We didn't create enough."

He accepted the derision of the fans as "part of the game" and insisted he would ­persevere with the misfirin­g Torres.

He said: "Torres is trying a lot to get his chance. Whatever time it takes we will persevere until he scores again. But I don't create a system for one player."

Everton boss David Moyes hailed his players, especially Steven Pienaar, back at Everton on loan from Spurs.

He said: "That was a great result, though the strange thing is I think we can play better.

"Some of Pienaar's stuff was terrific. It's as if he'd never been away. Sometimes clubs suit players."

Everton may be less gifted individually, but they have the organisation and endeavour to confound the odds.

Pienaar's first goal back in the blue shirt and Denis Stracqualursi's strike rewarded their honest ­philosophy.

Villas-Boas, still without the services of John Terry, opted to go with Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz at the heart of his defence and return Gary Cahill to the bench, but he did restore Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard to the fold.

Lampard might have wished for a less conspicuous comeback as he unwittingly set up Pienaar's goal. The Chelsea skipper's attempted intervention merely served to propel the ball into the path of the winger, who smashed it into the roof of Petr Cech's net.

Lampard wrung his hands in horror, but put ­himself at the hub of Chelsea's controlled response as they patiently sought an opening.

A miscued ­attempt at a clearance by Phil Neville presented Daniel Sturridge with half a chance but to the winger's ­dismay, he could not turn it into the genuine article.

Chelsea sustained the ­pressure, forcing Tim Howard into a panic punch that Luiz failed to make the most of.

Everton continued to ride their luck, a timely deflection lifting Sturridge's blast over the crossbar. They escaped again as Lampard, making that trademark run into the area, pushed his shot wide.

A mistake by Cole gave Everton a rare opening and the full-back was relieved Stracqualursi could not capitalise.

Chelsea maintained their edge in possession yet grew increasingly desperate as they struggled to find a leveller.

Villas-Boas sent on Florent Malouda for Michael Essien, a move that drew chants of ­derision from Chelsea fans.

On the other hand, Everton knew exactly what they were doing from the moment ­Neville won the ball and fed Landon Donovan.

The winger, on loan from LA Galaxy, made ground, cut inside and found Stracqualursi, who beat the advancing Cech to secure the win. Howard averted any late anxiety by smothering the ball at the feet of substitute Romelu Lukaku.

Mail on Sunday

 

With a meagre three points from their last four Premier League games following this woeful submission to a resurgent Everton, Chelsea are in crisis and Andre Villas-Boas's future at Stamford Bridge is in grave doubt.

'There are a lot of negatives to take from this game,' he said, jeered by his own fans for a performance that saw Chelsea tumble out of the top four.

This is not the kind of message that Roman Abramovich - who attended Chelsea training this week - wants to hear. And when Abramovich is unhappy, his managers tend to know it, as Chelsea's financial results for the 2010-11 season, published in full this week, reminded us.

The accounts contained the fact that it cost Chelsea £28million to get rid of Villas-Boas's predecessor Carlo Ancelotti and to hire the replacement.

There is no owner more trigger-happy than Abramovich, and without a swift dramatic change in fortunes, it is easy to see Villas- Boas getting another visit from his boss soon and becoming yet another exceptional cost in the CFC financial document.

Everton deserve credit for the way they went about their work, inspired by Steven Pienaar, on loan from Tottenham, back at his old club.

He opened the scoring, while another on-loan player, Denis Stracqualursi, netted the second, and a third loan signing, Landon Donovan of LA Galaxy, was again impressive.

But the decline of Chelsea and their ongoing inability to make any impression on the title race is shocking. That at least appears to be the view of many of their own fans, who face the prospect of missing out on Champions League football next season.

Never in Abramovich's ownership, since summer 2003, have Chelsea finished outside the top three in the league, let alone outside the top four.

'Today was one of our worst games of the season,' Villas-Boas said, before quickly correcting himself. 'THE worst. Everton's [January] signings have helped them improve. It was a difficult day for us.'

Asked how it felt to be derided vocally by his own fans, as he was in the second half, he said: 'It's part of the job. At the moment we're sitting fifth in the league and it's not good enough.'

It was only when Stracqualursi scored Everton's second goal and took this match beyond Chelsea's reach that the home fans started chanting at Villas-Boas: 'You're getting sacked in the morning.'

It tells you everything you need to know about the dire state of Chelsea's season that their own travelling support had got their insults in first. 'You don't know what you're doing,' they chanted when 1-0 down and just after Villas-Boas had replaced Michael Essien with Florent Malouda in the 69th minute.

It's no wonder Roman is taking charge!

Chelsea's 43-point total from 25 games is their lowest since 2001, when they finished sixth.

Andre Villas-Boas, in his first season at Stamford Bridge, has managed only 12 points from the last 10 Premier League games.

No wonder owner Roman Abramovich is becoming hands-on again.

That change failed to make an impact, just as Villas- Boas has failed to make much impact on indifferent form. Fernando Torres looks as far away as ever from rediscovering the form that made him a £50m player little more than a year ago.

Villas-Boas said he will simply keep encouraging the player but will not alter his overall approach to build play around the Spaniard. 'I don't create a system to suit one player,' he said.

Everton's manager David Moyes had written in his programme notes about his excitement at his recent hirings, notably Pienaar and the Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic. Jelavic was a late withdrawal from Saturday's squad with an abdominal problem, but his team-mates made the brightest of starts without him.

They were ahead inside five minutes following sloppiness from Chelsea. Jose Bosingwa's throw-in was ill-aimed and Frank Lampard needed to challenge Tim Cahill for the ball, which looped towards Chelsea's goal.

Pienaar shrugged past Branislav Ivanovic, controlled with his chest and then slammed the ball into the roof of the net.

With Everton compact and hard-working, they weathered the only sustained Chelsea 'storm' of the match, which lasted about seven first-half minutes and involved chances but nothing of substance.

Lampard blasted a wayward free-kick. Torres had a shot blocked by Phil Neville, as did Essien, while Daniel Sturridge also saw a shot deflect to safety.

Sticking the boot in: Stracqualursi attempts to race clear of Raul Meireles

Donovan laid on the pass for Stracqualursi's low drive for 2-0 in the 71st minute and the day was Everton's to savour.

'That was a great result for us,' said Moyes. 'Strangely, I think we can also play better, but it's a great result to beat Chelsea.'

Sunday Express

ONE Chelsea manager's reign ended ignominiously in a corridor at Goodison Park. Another's won't conclude quite the same way but it is going from bad to worse.

Nine months ago, Carlo Ancelotti was unceremoniously sacked after defeat to Everton.

Andre Villas-Boas lingers on after another loss to David Moyes' men but, with Roman Abramovich an increasingly regular presence on the training ground and Chelsea's results on the pitch deteriorating, for how much longer?

Because this is expensive failure. It cost £28million to dismiss the Italian and his staff and prise the Portuguese from Porto. That is £28m to go backwards, £28m to go from third place into an uphill battle for fourth.

Possibly, come the end of the season, £28m to drop out of he Champions League. And £28m to be told "you don't know what you're doing" when Villas-Boas replaced Michael Essien with Florent Malouda.

And again when he removed Chelsea's most inventive player, Juan Mata, for the untried teenager Romelu Lukaku.

By then the match was lost, but the first rebellion in the stands came even before Denis Stracqualursi added to Steven Pienaar's early goal.

Dissent and dismal defeat should give Villas-Boas and Abramovich plenty to ponder.

They may have a three-year plan but it didn't involve playing in the Europa League. Or being beaten by a side with less talent and lower price tags but more commitment, more organisation and more spirit. Or being tormented by a man they tried to sign.

Pienaar would have only cost £3m last January. It is cheap by anyone one's standards - let alone Chelsea's - and, after he chose Spurs, they went and spent £50m on Fernando Torres.

But, whereas the Spaniard can't buy a goal, the South African marked his return to Goodison Park with an emphatic strike.

Brought back on loan from Tottenham, Pienaar got a huge ovation on his second coming.

He got a louder roar five minutes into it. When Frank Lampard challenged Tim Cahill, the ball looped up into his path and he controlled it on his chest before lashing his shot into the roof of the net.

Moyes said: "Bits of his stuff were terrific. Maybe some clubs just fit players and this one suits him."

But it was a day for Everton heroes old and new. A great tryer, though by no means a great footballer, Stracqualursi has got a growing fan club at Goodison Park.

They appreciate the non-stop running of a man who never gives defenders a moment's peace.

They are prepared to forgive the odd stray touch because of the huge amount of work he puts in.

And industry brought its rightful reward. No sooner had Villas-Boas been barracked by his own supporters than Stracqualursi had the Everton public cheering.

Landon Donovan darted infield before playing an intelligent pass. The Argentine ran on to it, finishing confidently for his first Premier League goal.

"Fantastic," added Moyes. "He is old-fashioned. When I played there were lots of that type of centre- forward, a little bit huff and puff and not pleasing to the eye but by the end he wore them down.

"He's got an iron lung and he deserves everything he gets."

Villas-Boas admitted: "Everton were fantastic." In contrast, Chelsea were shambolic.

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