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SEAMUS COLEMAN admits he is trying to follow the Leighton Baines blueprint for Premier League full-back play.
Coleman has played most of his career as a right-back, but has been pushed further forward into midfield in recent seasons as manager David Moyes tries to build the 23-year-old’s top flight experience.
But against Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup recently Coleman reverted to right-back and was outstanding.
He believes his performances are improving by taking lessons from team-mates Baines’ book.
“Right-back is where I’ve played all my life other than the last two seasons,” he said.
“When I’m not playing games I am watching and I watch Bainesy and try and learn from him.
“For me, he is the best left-back in England and if asked to play full-back, if I could do half as good a job as him that would be great.
“I’ve been in and around the squad now for a couple of years and I maybe haven’t had as many games as I would have liked.
“But breaking into the team at Everton is hard, especially the way we are playing at the minute.
“I really enjoy right-back so hopefully I can do a job there when asked to fill-in but I will also be happy on the right of midfield if there is an opportunity.”
Baines was in action for England in last night’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, while Coleman won his sixth cap for the Republic of Ireland – in a midfield role – in their 4-1 friendly victory over Oman.
Phil Jagielka also started for England, while Steven Naismith was a late substitute for Scotland in their home draw with Macedonia.
In Belgium, the hosts were held 1-1 by Croatia, where Nikica Jelavic played an hour and Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas appeared as second half substitutes.
Holland won 4-1 in Hungary but Johnny Heitinga didn’t feature.
“THERE is still the big fella at Standard Liege”. So said David Moyes on a frantic August evening in 2008, when the vagaries of the Premier League’s transfer window had left him still searching for a flag-ship signing at the 11th hour.
As ever Moyes already knew all about Marouane Fellaini.
Like most covetous managers in Europe he had watched with envy as the Belgian had played a dominant part in Standard Liege’s brave stand against Liverpool in their recent Champions League qualifying clash.
If Fellaini was not one of the most scouted players already before that game, he was afterwards – and Everton had already contacted Standard about his availability without tangible progress in talks.
But having sold Andrew Johnson to Fulham for almost £10m, and with the departure of Lee Carsley, the Toffees were firmly in the market for a midfield anchor-man and the timing was opportune – even if time was running out.
Always prepared to go to any lengths to get his man in the transfer market, Moyes flew to Belgium as the clock ticked down on transfer deadline day.
As Bill Kenwright previously recalled: “We knew what we wanted, David got his budget mid-June and like any fan I was like ‘why don’t you go for such and such’ but he knew what he wanted. He wanted stature. He wanted tall.
“We went back to my office and even then you have every agent under the sun calling, and suddenly you’re considering Louis Bimpson, Billy Liddell, Dixie Dean – and with eight hours left until the deadline, David said ‘there is still the big fella at Standard Liege’.
“That story, if it’s ever written up or filmed, you wouldn’t believe. It’s just fantasy time, but he got his big man and it fitted. He said ‘Bill, it’s going to take a few weeks for this boy to find his feet’ but I thought ‘what a manager’.
“Eventually at 12 minutes to 12 David walks in the room and says ‘Bill, I can see him’. I said ‘thank God for that. What’s he like?’ He said ‘big!’ We managed to get it through literally by seconds.”
Even though his potential was undoubted, it was a risky move. Moyes, long an admirer of Belgium’s raft of young talent as emphasised by his subsequent swoop for Kevin Mirallas, had tracked the 6ft 3in player for months, along with Manchester United and Chelsea, but it was only the Everton boss and Kenwright who firmed-up their interest with cold, hard cash.
The transfer had very nearly collapsed when Standard tried to block the deal after discovering they had drawn Everton in the UEFA Cup.
But Moyes was determined not to be denied, and went to Brussels to cajole the Liege vice-president Luciano D’Onofrio and chairman Reto Stiffler into selling their star.
Eventually Liege caved in and the deal was sealed.
“It was a very long day but it proved worthwhile,” said Moyes at the time. “We have been chasing him for two years and have keenly watched his development.
“I have always wanted to buy players who provide a return on our investment. I know it’s a record fee but he’s going to be here for a long, long time.”
That £15m fee may be relative peanuts for some clubs but for Everton it was, and it remains, a lot of money – a symbol of just how highly Moyes rated Fellaini.
It’s safe to say that the blue half of Merseyside took a while to be convinced that the club’s precious transfer funds had been spent wisely.
The Premier League had not seen a midfielder of Fellaini’s towering, almost awkward, physique since Patrick Viera arrived at Arsenal.
Except for the first few months of his stay in Liverpool, Fellaini wasn’t quite up to such a grandiose comparison.
Moyes, however, remained convinced.
Still only 20, it was always going to take time for the half-Moroccan to adapt to a different culture and vastly changed footballing landscape.
“The fact that we signed him for such a big fee was a big deal,” recalled Leighton Baines last year. “It meant that there was pressure on him straight away but he just came in and got on with it. It was quite unusual, really. In his first week, he kept going around smashing into people with these wild tackles.
“Some of the lads did not know what to make of it and wouldn’t go near him. The last thing you want in training is to get a volley off someone, but Tim Cahill definitely received a few. I think he just wanted to show that he shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
When he initially failed to click in Everton’s engine room, Moyes instead deployed Fellaini’s talents in a more advanced attacking role and reaped the benefits with nine crucial goals in 35 appearances.
The Big Wig, as he came to be known, notched his first goal in October against Newcastle United, and followed that with the winner in a 1-0 victory over Bolton before scoring the header that held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park as Everton eventually went on to finish fifth.
The incumbents of the Old Lady were warming to him. As is so often the way, Bluenoses were creating an icon from the most unlikely of sources.
The hair helped. Goodison had not witnessed such an extravagant hairstyle since Abel Xavier’s bleached- blonde, Neptune-esque hair and beard combo.
Before long, young fans were filing into the match wearing customised curly Scouser wigs in honour of their new hero, who went from bemusement to embracing his growing cult status on Merseyside.
But Fellaini’s flourishing stature was no joke. With his immaculate touch and economic style, the man nicknamed Screech at Finch Farm (after the similarly haired Saved By the Bell character) was attracting some of the continent’s biggest clubs including Chelsea and Real Madrid. The Viera comparisons were suddenly quite apt.
Evertonians were already won over by the time Fellaini flummoxed Craig Bellamy with a breathtaking pirouette during a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the 2009/10 season.
And he has been sorely missed when two serious ankle injuries side-lined him in two consecutive seasons.
Club captain Phil Neville has often gone on record about the Belgian’s popularity in the dressing room. “He has immersed himself in Everton’s culture,” Neville said. “A couple of years ago we went on a mid-season break to France and the plan was for us all to travel in tracksuits. But I told Felli he needed to come in his club suit, complete with shirt and tie. When he turned up, he knew straight away he’d been stitched up and everyone burst out laughing but he took it brilliantly.
“The lads love him and we know the fans do, too, because we see them wearing those Afro wigs for him everywhere we go. When we bought him, we got a £15million snip.”
KARIM MARIAGE was Fellaini's coach at Mons and also Belgian second division side Francs Borains.
He remembers a young player with a precocious talent who was destined for the top.
He said: “I coached him at 16 when he ate football and dreamed football. It was everything to him then.
“I have to say he was a coach’s dream. He worked hard and I can only say he was a pleasure to work with.
“I watched him develop at Francs Bourain and then had the chance to coach him against at Mons. I spoke with the manager there and said we must put him in the first team despite his young age.
“It was only a matter of time before the decision was proven right and pretty soon he was being considered by other clubs.
“By the time he went to Standard he had a good mentality and was a strong person. He is a shining example to everyone.
“His height was a gift from God. He went to the national side for U16s, U18s, U19s and it was just natural he would play in the top leagues.
“His father Abdelattif had a great belief in his soon, he believed in Marouane more than anyone. All parents think their kids are great, but he knew Marouane had what it takes to succeed.
“He was convinced his son would play in the Jupiler Pro League first division. He had been a good player himself but did not get the opportunity to play at the top level and he wanted that for his son.
“To move to Everton and live alone in England when you are 20 like he did was commendable. It was hard for him at first but he did it.
“I’ve enjoyed watching him grow in England. I watch him every weekend and his evolution has been rapid. Eventually I think he will go on to play in Spain for Real Madrid or Barcelona."
BOHEMIANS manager Aaron Callaghan claims Everton FC have expressed an interest in 19-year-old defender Kevin Feely.
“There is definite interest there from Everton,” Callaghan told Ireland’s Evening Herald.
“I would hate to lose Kevin but he really wants to further his career.”
Meanwhile, Everton been granted an additional 2000 tickets for next week’s Capital One Cup third round clash at Leeds United.
The Blues’ initial allocation of 3000 tickets sold out quickly and, after reaching an agreement with West Yorkshire police, Leeds have approved Everton’s application for the additional tickets and these have now gone on general sale.
EVERTON teenager Ross Barkley will go on loan to Sheffield Wednesday for more experience.
The midfielder, 18, joins the Championship side despite David Moyes seeing a deadline-day deal for Club Brugge midfielder Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe fall foul of FIFA red tape.
Everton feel England Under-19 star Barkley’s development will be better served with regular games for Wednesday.
Well, that was pretty awful, wasn’t it?
Frank Lampard’s nerveless penalty may have extended Roy Hodgson’s unbeaten start as England boss, but nobody will have been fooled.
Hodgson’s honeymoon came to a shuddering end, even if Lampard’s 26th international goal prevented the first competitive Wembley game under a home-grown manager since Steve McClaren’s 2007 debacle against Croatia ending in similar fashion.
Second best in most departments, sloppy on the ball, even worse without it, cut to ribbons at times and down to 10 men after skipper Steven Gerrard was dismissed (click here for John Cross' England player ratings).
Somehow, despite all that, England stole a point, Lampard showing their one moment of certainty in front of goal, as the introductions of Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand made a difference.
But as Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were forced to confront the realities of international football, the central axis failed to function and Hodgson’s side gave the ball away with staggering regularity, this was a salutary experience.
Let there be no arguments, England got away with it.
From the opening seconds, when Glen Johnson played England into trouble, requiring a crunching tackle from Gerrard, until the last Ukrainian free-kick fizzed across the home box, Hodgson’s side were out of kilter.
Yes, there were moments, chances, openings. But there should be at home.
Jermain Defoe will feel frustrated that his early “opener” was ruled out - the latest goal that never was between these two sides, revenge of sorts for the visitors after events in Donetsk last summer.
Yes, Cleverley missed two sitters - one which may give him a few nightmares until he can put it right - and the Manchester United starlet and his Old Trafford team-mate Danny Welbeck were both thwarted by the woodwork.
In truth, though, nobody wearing a white shirt was ever half as comfortable, dynamic and penetrative as Ukrainian goalscorer Yevhen Konoplyanka.
Few of Hodgson’s side ever seemed confident about the return to a flat midfield quartet.
And with the centre-halves in particular giving the ball away, there were far too many occasions when it took desperate interventions to prevent Hodgson’s men being left down and out.
All the talk of the Copacabana and Brazil in 2014 will start to appear a pipedream if Hodgson’s England cannot start to show more security at the back, intensity in the middle and potency up front.
This was a night which showed the value of the missing men. Do not try to pretend England would not have been better with Ashley Cole, John Terry and Wayne Rooney in the team.
But they were without them and the understudies struggled to cope, Hodgson’s allusion to Cesc Fabregas when discussing Cleverley after the Moldovan romp appearing decidedly premature.
It would have been a fluke had Oleg Gusev’s cross, deflecting wildly off Oxlade-Chamberlain and onto the post, had ended up in Joe Hart’s net.
Yet all game England were exposed on the counter-attack, vulnerable and edgy.
Of course, it might have been different had Defoe’s “goal”, 10 minutes in, been allowed to stand by Turkish whistler Cuynet Cakir.
The Spurs striker certainly held out his arm when he dropped into the pocket to receive from Oxlade-Chamberlain but the minimal contact with Andriy Yarmalenko’s windpipe was not worthy of the dramatic face-clutching fall that followed as Defoe crashed home.
Even so, England were worryingly open, Gerrard clearing off the line to foil Ruslan Rotan when Cleverley was caught in possession, Denys Garmash over the top from close range.
They had their moments at the other end but it was just after Cleverley somehow conspired to stab the ball against defenceless keeper Andriy Pyatov from six yards when Defoe nodded Gerrard’s terrific ball back across the Ukrainian box that they trailed.
Joleon Lescott gave the ball away - and England never got it back as it was transferred to Konoplyanka, Gerrard not able to close down as he beat Hart all ends up from 25 yards.
Cleverley had two chances to redeem himself, mis-kicking horribly from Lampard’s ball and then collecting from James Milner but hitting the outside of the upright and the second half was more of the same, England far too anxious, witnessed in a slew of bookings, including Gerrard’s elbow-first challenge on Rotan.
Without Leighton Baines’ back-post touch in front of Roman Zozulia, after the uncertain Phil Jagielka gave the ball to Konoplyanko and watched the scorer run away, there would have been no salvation.
Even that looked to be beyond England when Welbeck, teed up by Sturridge, slammed one against the upright.
But four minutes from time, Betrand stretched, Defoe nodded on and Welbeck’s shot was blocked by the hand of Yevhen Khacheridi, Lampard drilling home to go level with Bryan Robson on the all-time England scoring list.
Still time for Gerrard to see red for a foul on Zozulia and Johnson to also rule himself out of the home game against San Marino next month.
Not good enough, Roy.
Not even close to good enough.
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS
Joe Hart 6
The England keeper was much the busier and could do nothing about Konoplyanka’s opener. Also had an early escape when Gusev hit the post.
Glen Johnson 5
His passing was so bad at times he must have thought England were wearing blue. Had a poor game apart from his rare forays forward. Booked.
Joleon Lescott 5
Lescott lacks John Terry’s leadership qualities and is prone to making the odd mistake. Was caught out by Ukraine’s pace and movement. Booked.
Phil Jagielka 5
Given the nod for his understanding with Lescott from their Everton days. But it did not work and both were guilty of giving the ball away too easily.
Leighton Baines 6
Was not offered much protection and could not overlap as much as he would have liked. Made brilliant clearance after the break to deny Ukraine.
James Milner 5
Made a quiet start but got better and went close to making it two goals in two games. Always works hard but lacks that match-winning quality. Booked.
Frank Lampard 7
Tried to drive England forward and showed more attacking ambition than most. Netted the vital leveller with unstoppable penalty down the middle.
Ton Cleverley 4
Could have had hat-trick but missed the lot. Was guilty of wasting two glorious openings and also hit the post with a better effort. So disappointing.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6
Infectious enthusiasm and youthful eagerness was inspirational. But must also mix his forward runs with tracking back to help his defence.
Steven Gerrard 6
Made a terrific goal-line clearance, was England’s best passer and yet failed to halt Konoplyanka before his wonder strike. Sent off after two yellows.
Jermain Defoe 6
Desperately unlucky to have a goal ruled out early on. Superb turn, strength and shot but ref harshly judged he pushed Yarmolenko. Booked.