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KEVIN MIRALLAS will flourish after proving he has the heart for the physical nature of the Premier League, says David Moyes.
The Everton manager has been delighted by how quickly his £5.5m summer signing from Olympiacos has adapted to the rigours of the English game, and believes he showed he has the muscle to match his ability during a string of combative recent fixtures against Wigan, QPR and Liverpool.
Mirallas, 25, could be fit to play a part in today’s trip to Fulham after being forced off at half-time during last Sunday's derby with an ankle injury.
The Belgian international has been able to take part in some training during the week, and Moyes admits the forward’s confident displays have been a pleasant surprise.
He said: “Mirallas gives us another dimension. I am surprised, if I'm honest at how quickly he's settled in, because I was worried at the start of the season he wasn't ready to play 90 minutes in the Premier League.
“Yet he seemed to relish the challenge in the derby, and in some of the tough away games we have had there have been real signs.
“You can see he can be a top, top player. His record of scoring goals is really good too, and I think there is that to come from him. Maybe in the second half of the season we'll see that from him.
“He can play in any of the three positions across the front line, and I like that about us, that we have some versatility, because Pienaar can play in different positions too, and we want options and alternatives, we want to ensure we are not one-dimensional in games.
“I think he's shown he's coming to term with the Premier League now. I think if you watch English football, nobody rolls over, every single game you have to grind to a result, whereas maybe where he has played before, there have been a few gimmes when you can ease off. You can't do that here.”
While Everton will be without Darron Gibson again today, as the midfielder still struggles with the thigh problem he picked up against West Brom in early September, Moyes is pleased with the options in his squad, and in particular the contribution so far of another summer arrival, Steven Naismith.
“He came in and did a good job for us (against Liverpool),” he said. “I think he'll improve. He had his first cruciate at Rangers and I spoke to Walter Smith and he said it took him six months to get back.
“Actually he was back in form when he did his second cruciate and he's only just back, so it might take six months to get him back where we want him. But I think he did well in the derby, getting the goal.
“Part of the reason for bringing him was because we knew he could bring us goals so if he could get me between eight and 10 goals it would be good and that's what he needs to try and do.
“We want Jelavic to keep scoring as well because he's important to us, but Naisy getting the goal is important to us.”
MARTIN JOL will today measure Fulham’s free-scoring progress in the Premier League this season against an Everton side he describes as “the best of the rest”.
The Fulham manager has seen his side score 19 league goals so far, a tally only bettered by leaders Chelsea and Manchester United.
But it is David Moyes’ side who Jol believes are the standard bearers for sides such as Fulham.
Jol said: “We always admire Everton. Everton are an example for so many clubs.
“Over the last 10 or 12 years most of the time they were in the top seven. Outside the recognised top clubs I think they are the best.
“They don’t have the resources of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs. Last season we were almost like them and then we lost to Spurs and they were four points ahead of us and that was a great statistic to be near Everton because I see them as being the best of the rest.”
Fulham lie in seventh position, two places behind Everton but a win for either side at Craven Cottage today could take them into the top four depending on results elsewhere.
Yet Jol admits his biggest problem is keeping a squad happy with so many striking options.
Fulham may have lost the firepower of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele in the summer transfer window but Dimitar Berbatov, Brian Ruiz, Hugo Rodallega and Mladen Petric have given Jol a headache when it comes to selecting a striking partnership.
Jol said: “We have scored as many goals so far as normally we would until February or April, so that is good.
“We lost our top scorers but up until now it is more productive than it was before.”
Asked if it was a challenge keeping them all happy, he said: “It is difficult but that is my job. I see them as luxury problems with all these players up front.”
Everton are no slouches either when it comes to goals, having scored 17 in their nine games so far this season.
Jol puts the Everton success down to the consistency of manager Moyes, who has assembled a squad of quality players.
Jol said: “If you are at a club like Everton for many years then you must be doing something. There is a good structure to the club, they buy one player every year and fit him in. There is a consistency.
“We have done that in the last couple of years and hopefully we can do that in the future. They are the benchmark for a lot of clubs.”
This season Jol has identified one or two outstanding Everton individuals who are making a difference at Goodison Park.
One is full-back Leighton Baines, who stood in for Arsenal’s Ashley Cole in England’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
Jol said: “Baines is the best full-back in Britain at the moment. I like Everton, they are tough and physical and they can play. It is a great combination.”
Another who gets the Jol seal of approval is Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
Jol said: “They have real team players. Fellaini is an unbelievable player. He has developed into a top international player.
“Steven Pienaar is an individual who can hurt you too. Then they have (Nikica) Jelavic, who came from Scotland, and he was the player they needed. Phil Jagielka is underestimated but he is an international player. They are a good team.”
Fulham have no new injury worries with defender Chris Baird having recovered from a minor injury he received when he slid into advertising hoardings celebrating his headed goal against Reading last weekend. Meanwhile, midfielder Simon Davies continues to recover from a hip operation while French midfielder Mickael Tavares is out with a hamstring problem.
David Moyes has insisted criticism of his Everton team is music to his ears - as it means he's doing something right.
The Blues boss believes claims his side are long-ball merchants no different in style from Stoke, from Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard - and before that Sir Alex Ferguson - show the fear his team are beginning to provoke amongst the big clubs.
And he hit back with a veiled jibe, insisting Everton play such breathtaking football at times he would pay to watch them but wouldn't bother spending his hard-earned cash on the "boring" approach of other leading teams.
"I know, absolutely, that when Fergie has a dig at you, it means it's a compliment in a way," Moyes laughed.
"Maybe we have been competing better against [Fergie's Manchester] United in recent seasons, and we are beginning to compete better against most of the top clubs now, so that's perhaps why these things are being said.
"I'd sooner get that, them having a dig, than people being nice about us because we've lost. When you're easy beat then it's easy to be nice, but the thing is, we are definitely not easy beat these days."
Everton visit Fulham on Saturday, looking to extend a run that has seen them lose just once in the league all season, and their manager is confident they can reproduce the form that has earned so many plaudits.
At times, the Merseyside club have produced some vibrant attacking football through the skills and creativity of players such as Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman and Leighton Baines.
And Moyes believes the biggest compliment his side can have is if they continue to inspire criticism amongst their most prominent rivals - who he hinted are dull in their approach.
"You know what? I don't think too many teams play better football than Everton - I would pay to watch us and there are certainly a lot of teams I wouldn't pay to watch because I get a bit bored with them," he insisted.
"We are competitive, sure, that's what we do. But we are exciting to watch.
"We have quality going forward, and at times we have played some incredible football, and the people who have watched us will tell you that.
"More importantly, if you ask our fans, they'll tell you they're happy with the way we're playing, and ask managers - they'll say they are impressed by what we've achieved.
"I genuinely don't bother with what's said. The facts prove it's not the case. I don't care - really.
"I don't actually care how we win so long as we win, but we have been doing it in style, and I think our football has been outstanding at times, it really has."
Moyes believes one of the reasons Everton have been branded a route-one team is simply because people who don't understand football see the height of 6ft 4in midfielder-cum-striker Marouane Fellaini and automatically assume they must always launch the ball at him.
But in fact, the Everton manager argued that heading the ball is actually quite low down the list of the Afro-sporting Belgium international's qualities.
"I thing people look at Felli and his height and make assumptions, but the thing is, that's not his biggest asset by any means. I'd say his best quality is his feet and his touch on the ball. He has some wonderful skills," Moyes added.
"He has the touch to take it soft on the chest and control from there, and the ability to use the ball. His aerial ability is certainly not his best quality.
"But I don't think people in the game are thinking he's one-dimensional. They know he's a top, top player who has a real balance to his game, and there are a lot of top clubs who recognise that because there are a lot of top clubs who want to sign him.
"We are not one-dimensional - Mirallas gives us another dimension.
"I am surprised, if I'm honest at how quickly he's settled in, because I was worried at the start of the season he wasn't ready to play 90 minutes in the Premier League.
"Yet he seemed to relish the challenge in the derby, and in some of the tough away games we have had there have been real signs.
"You can see he can be a top, top player. His record of scoring goals is really good too, and I think there is that to come from him.
"Maybe in the second half of the season we'll see that from him."
Mirallas should be fit for the visit to Fulham, after recovering from an ankle injury that saw him limp out of the derby at half-time, and defender Sylvain Distin should be fit.
However, midfielder Darron Gibson still isn't ready for a comeback.
Martin Jol admits he rejected the chance to buy Kevin Mirallas last summer.
Everton striker Mirallas will face the Fulham manager at Craven Cottage if he shakes off an ankle problem – but the Belgium international could have been lining up for the Cottagers rather than against them.
However, Jol decided the £6million fee demanded by Greek side Olympiacos was too steep, and he turned instead to free-agent signings Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega – plus a cut-price Dimitar Berbatov.
Jol said: “We could have had Mirallas for a 'bargain few million'. Of course, we would do it if it was necessary, but I always try to find the real bargains.
“And I think we did that as well.”
Jol admits his strikers have done so well this season that he doesn’t know his best forward pairing.
He added: “Petric is a great player and thinks he should be playing - and he’s right. But I can’t play them all.”
EVERTON boss David Moyes has come out swinging after Steven Gerrard took a swipe at the Toffees’ tactics in the Merseyside derby.
Moyes laughed off the Liverpool skipper’s jibe of Marouane Fellaini being a simple targetman after the controversial 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.
And as he prepared to tackle Fulham today from fifth place, Moyes declared: “I don’t care how we win – but we have been doing it in style.
“Not too many teams play better football. I’d pay to watch us – and there are a lot I wouldn’t pay to watch because I get a bit bored with them.”
Gerrard, who was fuming after a late Luis Suarez winner was wrongly ruled out for offside, soon changed his tune and withdrew his comments.
But the Kop star’s outburst followed Sir Alex Ferguson being less than complimentary about Everton’s approach after they beat Manchester United in the first game of the season.
Moyes said: “I really don’t care what people are saying about us. We have to keep doing what we are doing, which is getting results.
“I think people who have watched us say we’re playing really well – more importantly, if you ask our fans they’ll tell you they’re happy with the way we’re playing.
“And managers will say they are impressed by what we’ve achieved.
“I don’t care how we win so long as we win. But we have been doing it in style and I think our football has been fantastic at times.”
He added: “I know that when Fergie has a dig at you, it means it’s a compliment in a way. Maybe we have been competing better against United in recent seasons.
"We are beginning to compete better against most of the top clubs now, so that’s perhaps why these things are being said.”
And Moyes added: “I watched Chelsea play Bayern Munich in the Champions League final and they didn’t come out at all, they hit it long – but they are European champions.
“That means they played the right way on the night. There are different ways of playing and the most important thing is to win.”
As for hitting high balls at 6ft 4in Fellaini, Moyes said: “I think people look at Felli and make assumptions. But that’s not his biggest asset by any means.
“I’d say his best quality is his feet and his touch on the ball. He has some wonderful skills.
“I don’t think people in the game are thinking he’s one-dimensional. They know he’s a top player who has a real balance to his game.
“And there are a lot of top clubs who recognise that because there are a lot of top clubs who want to sign him.”
DAVID MOYES has shrugged off Steven Gerrard’s barbed criticism of Everton’s tactics and declared: “I don’t care how we win – but we have been doing it in style.”
Liverpool skipper Gerrard accused Moyes’ side of playing a long-ball game after last Sunday’s hard-fought Merseyside derby ended in a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.
Gerrard retracted his inflammatory comments within 24 hours, citing the heat of the moment and his still-fresh grievance at Luis Suarez having a perfectly legitimate late winning goal ruled out.
But the England captain’s outburst came in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson questioning Everton’s approach after Manchester United’s unexpected Goodison defeat on the opening weekend.
Yet far from taking offence, Moyes – who has steered Everton into fifth place – is quite prepared to let others judge the quality of their football.
Everton visit Fulham today and Moyes said: “I genuinely don’t bother. I don’t actually care how we win so long as we win.
“But we have been doing it in style, and our football has been fantastic at times.
“I know that when Fergie has a dig at you, it means it’s a compliment in a way. Maybe we have been competing better against United.
“We are beginning to compete better against most of the top clubs, so that’s perhaps why these things are being said.”
Fulham manager Martin Jol has revealed he had the opportunity to sign Kevin Mirallas but opted instead to seek out the cut-price bargains last summer.
Mirallas has quickly settled in at Everton following his £6 million move from Olympiakos.
David Moyes has launched a staunch defence of his tactics and admitted he 'doesn’t care about criticism' so long as Everton keep winning.
The fallout from the Merseyside derby saw Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and manager Brendan Rodgers comment on Everton’s approach – Gerrard later retracted his words – but this is not the first Moyes has seen his team criticised.
Sir Alex Ferguson also accused Everton of playing long balls on the opening weekend of the campaign but Moyes says he has paid no attention to disparaging remarks. He is thrilled with the way Everton are performing and wants them to continue at Fulham.
'I really don't care what people are saying about us,’ said the Scot. ‘We have to keep doing what we are doing, which is getting results. I think people who have watched us will say we're playing really well.
'But more importantly if you ask our fans they'll tell you they're happy with the way we're playing, and ask managers - they'll say they are impressed by what we've achieved. I genuinely don't bother. The facts prove it's not the case (that Everton play long balls).
'I don't actually care how we win so long as we win but we have been doing it in style and I think our football has been outstanding at times, it really has. I watched Chelsea play Bayern Munich in the Champions' League final and they didn't come out at all, they hit it long.
'But they are European champions. That means they played the right way on the night. There are different ways of playing. The most important thing is to win.’
Part of Everton’s transformation this season has stemmed from the outstanding impact Kevin Mirallas has made since his £5million arrival from Olympiakos in August, the Belgian’s pace, dexterity and eye for goal have quickly made him a terrace favourite.
He was outstanding in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool and there is reason to believe Everton would have actually won the Merseyside derby had Mirallas not been forced off at half-time with an ankle problem. Moyes is confident he will be fit to play at Craven Cottage.
'Kevin has gives us another dimension,’ said Moyes, who beat off competition from Porto and Arsenal to sign the 24-year-old.’ I’m surprised, if I'm honest, at how quickly he's settled in, because I was worried at the start of the season he wasn't ready to play 90 minutes in the Premier League.
'Yet he seemed to relish the challenge in the derby and in some of the tough away games we have had there have been real signs. You can see he can be a top, top player. His record of scoring goals is really good too, and I think there is that to come from him.
'Maybe in the second half of the season we'll see that from him. He can play in any of the three positions across the front line. I like that about us: we have some versatility, because (Steven) Pienaar can play in different positions too and we want options and alternatives.
'We want to ensure we are not one-dimensional in games. Kevin is coming to terms with the Premier League now. Every single game here you have to grind out a result. Mybe where he has played before, there have been a few ‘gimmes’ when you can ease off. You can't do that here.’
David Moyes has hit back at Steven Gerrard's criticism of Everton's playing style, insisting his team are one of the most entertaining in the league.
Gerrard described the Toffees as "playing like Stoke" before later retracting his comments.
But the Scot believes his side have many more facets than initially suggested by Gerrard after last week's Merseyside derby.
Moyes said the statistics speak for themselves and Everton would not be fifth, one point off the Champions League places with only one defeat all season, had they not more to offer.
"Your style is whatever suits yourself," said Moyes.
"Neutrals who have watched Everton would say our style is exciting and entertaining; you are seeing chances and goals.
"More importantly, if you ask any Evertonian what they think they would all say we've played very well.
"And even more importantly if you ask the manager how it has gone I would tell you Everton have played really well, passed it well.
"I think we are one of the teams who have made the most chances in the Premier League, we have scored a lot of goals (only Manchester United have scored more away from home).
"I think we have been good value and good to watch.
"I don't really bother with what Liverpool think to tell you truth, I only bother what I think."
Moyes believes only a quirk of the fixture list has prevented Everton cementing their place in the top four, from which they dropped out after last weekend's 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool.
Saturday's match at Fulham is their 10th of the campaign, which the manager said was always his yardstick in assessing how good a start they had made.
But he believes the platform they have given themselves means they now have to maintain it during the busy middle section of the season.
"After tomorrow we will have played six away games and it can distort your short-term points tally," Moyes added.
"If it was the other way around, with our good record at Goodison, we could have had another four or five points on the board.
"Most people, me included, would say it has been a far better start than we've had in the past and if we win at Fulham it will be a really good start.
"But if we are going to hang onto the coat-tails of the teams above us we are going to have to keep winning games and playing well.
"When you are challenging at the top people try to get to you and make sure you don't do as well but we've enjoyed it.
"We will just keep doing what we have been doing in recent weeks. I am pleased with the way the players are playing.
"We've got a tough game at Fulham, who I can see being one of the sides pushing to be in Europe.
"We've always found games against them tough and going to Craven Cottage is a hard place to go.
"But if we keep playing as well as we have been we'll win games."