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EVERTON FC left back Leighton Baines said he was thrilled to be named in the PFA Premier League team of the year – even if he insists he does not deserve the honour.
The 27-year-old was voted as the top flight’s best left-back by his fellow professionals, when then team was revealed at the PFA Awards dinner at the Grosvenor Hotel in London on Sunday.
Baines, who is currently out with a hamstring injury and missed Everton’s 4-4 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, was given the nod ahead of players like Ashley Cole, Patrice Evra and Gael Clichy.
He had played every minute of every Everton league game until he was rested for the Easter Monday win over Sunderland, but the typically honest England defender was not convinced his form has been the best in the league.
He said: “I didn’t really feel like I should be in it to be honest, but I was still delighted to be chosen – especially because it’s voted by players which means a lot. It’s nice to be recognised in that category of players like Clichy and Cole.
“I don’t think I’ve been the best left-back in league this season, but if other people think I have then obviously that’s great.
It’s a surprise, there have been players who I feel have done better.”
Robin van Persie won the PFA Player of the Year award, with Kyle Walker was named PFA Young Player of the Year.
And Baines had no quarrels with the other selections. “I agree with the team – I put Van Persie down as my player of the season and Kyle Walker has had a fantastic season too,” he said. “I don’t think anyone could argue with that.
“The team which is voted for by other players is usually fairly accurate.”
One player who did not make the line-up but has still impressed this term has been on-loan Swansea midfielder Glyfi Sigurdsson, who Everton are monitoring.
Sigurdsson, 22, has scored seven goals in 14 games for the Swans since his January loan switch from German club Hoffenheim, and was watched by Blues first team coach Jimmy Lumsden on Saturday, along with scouts from Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester United.
Meanwhile, Everton’s reserve team ended their season with a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers yesterday.
Second-half goals from Jose Baxter and Hallam Hope saw Alan Stubbs’ men complete their home fixtures for the season with a deserved victory.
Seamus Coleman played at right-back in the victory, while Ross Barkley, Shane Duffy and David Weir added further first-team experience.
IT’S a quiz question to baffle even the most clued-in football anorak.
Everton FC, the club which seems to have spent the entire Premier League era searching for a goalscorer, has THREE players in the Premier League’s all-time minute-to-goal scorers’ chart.
No prizes for guessing that the red-hot Nikica Jelavic is one. But who are the other marksmen whose goalscoring ratios has put even Thierry Henryin the shade?
Newcastle’s stunningly successful January signing, Papiss Cisse, tops the chart with a goal every 68 minutes since he arrived on Tyneside from Freiburg. But second on the list, with a goal every 92 minutes, is another striking import who was in action for Everton reserves yesterday – Apostolos Vellios.
After a five-minute cameo against Aston Villa, the Greek striker scored as a second half substitute against Wigan, took just 10 seconds to score after coming on at Stamford Bridge – then scored against Bolton Wanderers a full three minutes after entering the fray!
Nick Chadwick was another striking supersub who burst onto the scene in 2001.
After a handful of fleeting substitute appearances during the closing stages of Walter Smith’s reign as manager, it was the arrival of David Moyes which coaxed a prolific burst.
Chadwick scored against Bolton just 16 minutes after coming on, added another against Leicester two minutes after replacing Tomasz Radzinski then enjoyed his first full 90 minutes against Blackburn a fortnight later. He scored again.
Overtaken in the strikers’ pecking order by one Wayne Rooney, Chadwick left Goodison but continued to score goals for Derby, Millwall, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Chester, Barrow and Stockport.
He is still playing for League Two club Plymouth Argyle and still scoring – although not as prolifically as he did in his brief Premier League spell.
PREM ALL-TIME HIGHEST MINUTE-TO-GOAL SCORERS: 1. Papiss Cisse (Newcastle 2012) 11 goals, 68.5 mins per goal; 2. 2. Apostolos Vellios (Everton 2010-12) 3, 92.3; 3. Steve Thompson (Burnley 2009-10) 4, 95; 4. Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham 2012) 6, 105.8; 5. Sergio Aguero (Man City 2011-12) 22, 106.7; 6. Nikica Jelavic (Everton 2012) 6, 115.5; 7. Nick Chadwick (Everton 2001-05) 3 120; 8. Thierry Henry (Arsenal 2000-12) 176, 121.1; 9. Javier Hernandez (Man Utd 2010-12) 23, 124.8; 10. Mario Balotelli (Man City 2010-12) 19, 126.2.
AN EVERTON FC fan won £4,000 when he predicted the Blues would draw 4-4 with Manchester United – and Nikica Jelavic score the first goal.
The anonymous fan, from Preston, staked £1 with Sky Bet at odds of 4,000-1.
He said: “I prefer to bet on the big scores. Pity I didn’t put a fiver on!”
NEVILLE SOUTHALL says he is baffled by the lack of Everton FC players in PFA top flight teams of the year – after Leighton Baines became the first to make the cut in 22 years.
The goalkeeping legend was the last Toffees player to be included in 1990, until Baines was revealed as the Premier League’s top left-back in the estimation of his fellow professionals on Sunday.
But Southall believes the absence of men like Tim Cahill and Duncan Ferguson is down to a traditional ‘big club’ bias from some players, who are influenced by the national media and Sky Sports coverage.
He said: “It’s baffling really. Somebody said that Bainesy was the first since I got the vote, and I couldn’t believe guys like Cahill weren’t there.
“It was ironic because I was watching the game against Manchester United on Sunday and they had an interview with Duncan Ferguson beforehand.
“Then they went back to the studio and Gary Neville was saying how United always had to formulate a special plan for dealing with him. I’m sure it wasn’t just United who hated playing against him. How was Dunc not in the voting over the years?
“Maybe players are influenced by the TV and the idea of top clubs who regularly win things. Scott Parker was rightly the top man last season and he’s in it again this year – but he was still a great player before he joined Spurs.
“I look at players like Sylvain Distin who has been a consistent performer for so many top flight clubs and wonder how he hasn’t made it. Is it because he hasn’t played for a London club or Man United?”
Southall, who was named on the PFA Team of the Year four consecutive times, and was listed as one of the world’s top 10 goalkeepers by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics on four occasions, said players should vote on form.
“It makes me laugh when you pick up the Sunday paper and see stories about Leighton Baines being linked with Manchester United in the summer,” he added.
“If he’d been at Old Trafford for a few seasons he’d probably have been in the PFA team already. There’s that perception about the top clubs and it’s biased.”
David Moyes has urged his Everton board to act decisively to give him a chance of joining the Premier League elite.
The Blues boss wants funds for around three recruits early in the summer so he can start to plan his campaign.
DAVID MOYES wants owner Bill Kenwright to loosen the purse strings in the summer — to avoid another season playing catch-up.
Everton have lost just three in 19 games after Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar arrived in January.
The seventh-placed Toffees overturned a two-goal deficit twice on Sunday to snatch an amazing 4-4 draw at Manchester United.
But fans have been left to wonder where they would be if the side began the season with a flier.
Goodison boss Moyes said: “If you can do your recruitment early it makes a big difference to your group and gives them a chance to bed-in and you get better results sooner.
“We were able to get some in January which made a massive difference.”
Moyes, whose future remains cloudy, will discover his budget when he sits down with Kenwright for end-of-season talks.