Next Match:

Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

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

Sunday Mirror

David Moyes has assured Everton fans he won’t be forced to cash in on his top assets this month despite the club announcing more big losses.

The Toffees face Cheltenham today with other clubs circling over players like Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines.

Earlier this week, Everton revealed that they are now £46million in debt after ­losing £9.1m last year.

Moyes said: “I don’t really study the ­figures because it’s not my department. I just know that we sold players last year, but there’s not that kind of pressure this time.

“We only sold Jack ­Rodwell recently and last season we sold Mikel Arteta, so we have already raised some money.

“We have got a small amount of money I could use this month, but it’s only enough to get me a loan deal. Last January we had to sell to bring players in, but I’m not planning to sell ­anyone this time.”

Phil Jagielka and Leon ­Osman both signed new contracts during the week.

Moyes is still refusing to enter into negotiations about his own future, even though his deal expires in the summer.

He said: “I’ve said I’ll be waiting until after January – probably later than that.

“I’m more than comfortable. It’s my choice and I do not want anything to get in the way of the team.

“We are playing well and I want us to focus on trying to hang in at the top of the Premier League and to have a good run in the FA Cup.”

Meanwhile, Cheltenham boss Mark Yates is looking forward to welcoming Marouane Fellaini tomorrow night – before sending his son’s favourite player back to Merseyside a beaten man!

Mail on Sunday

Everton manager David Moyes will not sell Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini this month, despite the club's annual report revealing a financial loss of £9million last season.

Moyes admits he may have to restrict his activity this month to a loan signing if nobody leaves Goodison Park but, having sold Mikel Arteta and Jack Rodwell in the past 18 months, the Scot is not in the mood to sign off the departures of either of his prized assets.

Fellaini is valued at £25m and is likely to sign for Chelsea in the summer, while Baines - who scored a wonder free-kick at Newcastle on Wednesday - is valued by Everton at £15m and has reportedly been a target for Manchester United.

Ahead of Monday's FA Cup third-round tie at Cheltenham, Moyes was adamant the club's latest financial figures would not prompt a firesale.

'I don't really study the figures too much. I just know we sold a lot of players last year,' he said.

'There is no pressure to sell Baines or Fellaini, nothing like that. Remember we have recently sold Jack Rodwell. Last season we sold Arteta, so we have sold one or two players.'

What might interest Moyes is releasing a squad player like Jonny Heitinga to bring in newcomers.

Last January, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's return to Russia enabled Moyes to sign Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar.

'Things can happen very quickly,' added Moyes, 'albeit my plans aren't to sell anybody.'

Everton's net debt currently stands at £46m. They spent £63m on wages last season, 75 per cent of the club's turnover.
Moyes considers his failure to win a trophy as his biggest disappointment in a decade at Goodison Park and will not take League Two side Cheltenham lightly.

Although Baines may be rested, Fellaini is expected to play. Moyes has six months left on his contract and is waiting before opening contract talks with chairman Bill Kenwright. 'I'm more than comfortable,' said Moyes.

'It's my choice really and I can speak to the chairman whenever I need to.'

Mail on Sunday

At home on Tuesday night, Scott Brown watched Everton's Leighton Baines send the fiercest free-kick of the season swerving beyond Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul and reached for his mobile phone.
He tapped in the number of Steve Book, goalkeeping coach at Cheltenham Town, and sent him a text. 'I think we'll have to work on that one!' wrote Brown, next to a smiley face.

On Monday, goalkeeper Brown, the longest-serving player at Cheltenham - in his ninth year at the club currently fourth in League Two - will provide the last line of defence when Everton visit the Cotswolds in the FA Cup third round.

Perhaps the only time any of Everton's highly paid stars will have been to Cheltenham is during the National Hunt Festival that dominates horseracing each March.

Everton are odds-on favourites to survive the trip to Whaddon Road, where a sell-out 7,000 crowd will fill the compact stadium, together with a standing terrace, that will be unfamiliar to David Moyes's team who are used to more glamorous grounds.

'I imagine it will seem strange at first to the Everton players,' said 27-year-old Brown, who had to rebuild his career after being discarded as a teenager by Wolves, his home-town club.

On Sunday he will be surrounded by his team-mates, almost all assembled from the lower reaches of the game, when Cheltenham boss Mark Yates presents a breakdown of Everton's stars at the club's training ground no more than a decent gallop from the racecourse.

'I am sure we'll do some distance work at dead-ball situations before the game, but how do you simulate what Baines did the other night?' asked Brown, drily.

'We have a few good left-footers but no one as good as him! Baines had an earlier free-kick that brought a great save from Krul. But that next one was unstoppable. It went one way, then swerved the other.'

For Brown, and team-mates such as defenders Alan Bennett and Steve Elliott and midfielders Darren Carter and Russ Penn, the luck of the draw offers a rare opportunity to play in front of an armchair audience willing them to add their names to the folklore of the FA Cup.
Other than in the blue half of Merseyside, Cheltenham will be the nation's favourite team, if only for one night.
The enormous gulf between Cheltenham and Everton can be measured on the balance sheet, as well as the pitch. In the most recent accounts, Everton reported a turnover of £82million compared to £1.84m - some way less than Baines's wages - turned over by the little club in the Gloucestershire spa town.

Yates, who has managed the club for three years, says promotion is his club's priority.

Yet he also relishes the challenge fate has presented him. 'I don't think Everton will be complacent, David Moyes will not allow them to be,' said Yates.
'I know he has had us watched five or six times. As for us, we'll prepare as we always do. On Sunday, we'll highlight a little about each Everton player with a flip chart presentation and show the players a couple of clips. But I won't frighten the boys by telling them how good Baines is, or Pienaar or Fellaini is; because they already know that.

Scott Brown watched Leighton Baines rifle home a thunderous free-kick against Newcastle last Tuesday night and immediately texted goalkeeping coach Steve Book seeking advice.

The pair resolved to do some long-distance work but, as Brown admitted, none of his team-mates can hit the ball as hard as the Everton left-back!
However, Yates's trip also included an unusual detour. Before the game, he went to Durham Prison to visit an inmate who had played under him when he managed Kidderminster. 'An old player of mine has fallen on tough times,' explained Yates.
'When he was with me he was an unbelievably good lad. I had never been to a prison of this size - and it was horrible, a real shock. It took 45 minutes to get in, and there were so many young men in there.

'I sat with the lad for two hours and he knows he's done wrong, and he's determined when he gets out that he will put things right; but he is expecting to be imprisoned for a considerable time when he returns to court to be sentenced.'
Brown and Yates, in their own way, represent old-fashioned values that can get overlooked in a game where Mario Balotelli's latest skirmish with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini steals the news agenda; or where agents are exposed for striking a greedy pose each time the transfer window is opened in January.

'At the end of the day we play football for a living, and that's the dream of most boys,' said Brown. 'I come to work with a smile every day.'

In hard financial terms this tie could be worth £200,000 from the broadcasting fee, a lifeline to a club like Cheltenham, who survive on gates of around 3,500.

'I remember the day only a few years ago when club chairman, Paul Baker, came to the training ground to tell us he couldn't pay the wages,' recalled Brown.

'You could tell how much he was hurting; and how much the club means to him. Our wages were only 10 days late as the chairman dug into his own pocket to save the club from going into administration. We owe him massively.'

At the time, Martin Allen was manager. He left Brown with one indelible memory. 'One of the strangest times was when he peed himself in the middle of the pitch during training,' he said.

'He called us all together to explain he wanted us to be able to improvise. He said as the toilets were on the far side of the pitch, he had improvised by peeing where he was. And then, best of all, he joined in the five-a-side! 'You never knew what you were going to get with him; still, he's obviously doing very well with Gillingham who are top of our league, so what can you say?'

On Brown's laptop he has a photograph of himself lying on the pitch at Wembley in isolated misery after Cheltenham were beaten in the League Two play-off final by Crewe last season.

'It reminds me how close yet how far we were from fulfilling our ambition … and we want to go one better this season,' he said.

'But this tie with Everton is a chance to be on the pitch with stars of the game. I'll pop round to tell my Dad all the stories the next day, because I think it's his love of football that helps keep him going.'

Secretly, Brown hopes he will not have to recount how Baines delivered a blockbuster like the one that left Krul grasping thin air. But while Everton may yet decide to rest the England defender, Brown insists: 'I really do hope he plays.'

Sunday Telegraph

Darren Carter’s mind spins back a decade – to when he struck the decisive penalty, the £30 million spot-kick it was later dubbed, in the shoot-out at the end of the 2002 Championship play-off which earned Birmingham City a place back in the top-flight after an absence of 16 years.

Then aged just 18 and a Solihull boy it was the stuff of dreams – so it may be a surprise to hear him, on an overcast morning in League Two Cheltenham Town’s modest training ground, Carter claim that beating Everton in the FA Cup third round “would come close. One hundred per cent” to matching that achievement.

“It would be right up there,” Carter insists. “And hoping to do things like that is what drives you.”

A lot has happened to Carter in the intervening years. He got to play, as that wide-eyed teenager, in the Premier League for Birmingham and he also earned a big-money move to West Bromwich Albion – and his first goal for that club was a stunning winner against Arsenal which was later voted 'Goal of the Season’ for the Baggies.

Carter seemed set – but then his career drifted, as some careers do, and he eventually found himself in the uncomfortable position of going out-of-contract and on trial at a number of clubs.

Unfortunately, in a game for Nottingham Forest reserves, the midfielder tore the adductor muscle in his groin. It was the first serious injury of his career – a career that might, in a flash, be over.

“It was the worst case scenario all sorts of things did cross my mind,” Carter says. “And I did look at different avenues. It made me think about what I would do if it was coming to an end.”

Money was not tight – but he was not earning any either. The Professional Footballers’ Association helped pay for an operation while Birmingham took him back and helped with his rehab. “They looked after me,” Carter says.

“But the uncertainty of not knowing what was round the corner was the worst thing. Mentally it was quite tricky. People say 'oh, you’re only 28’ but I started to question whether I’d be offered a contract.

"I just wanted to get back and prove myself again.”

There was a depressing moment when he went on the PFA’s website and scrolled through the long, long list of players – including himself – searching for clubs.

“Times are tough in football,” Carter says. “You read through the hundreds of names and you just think 'how the hell have they not got clubs’.

"This year you look at someone like Nigel Reo-Coker who has played in the Premier League for years and still has a lot left in his career.

"If there are the calibre of players like that then it can happen to anyone. There’s a real ruthless side to football so if the opportunity is there you have to take it.”

The opportunity came, after almost a year out, at Cheltenham. A six-month contract was offered and accepted and Carter dropped down the divisions.

“Last year I was saying to people 'you are quickly forgotten in football’. "One bad injury and you are out. That’s it; you’re done. So you have to grind it out sometimes.”

And, at times, it has been a “grind” in League Two even if fourth-placed Cheltenham are one of the more progressive sides under manager Mark Yates.

“Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted,” Carter says. “There are games when it’s more of a battle but there’s also still a lot of quality in the league.”

He and Cheltenham are relishing Everton’s arrival.

“Last year the lads got to play Spurs at White Hart Lane at this stage of the cup so the opportunity to play against a good, solid team like Everton who are flying high in the Premier League and who have plenty of internationals and high-quality players is great for us as a team, but also as individuals as well, to test ourselves,” Carter says.

“It’s a benchmark for me personally to see where I am at and it’s going to be nice playing against that quality of player again.”

January is a vital month for him – and not just because of the cup-tie. On January 23 his six-month contract is up – and a new deal is yet to be agreed.

“We’re going to sit down and talk about it,” Carter says. “At the start this was a chance for me to get back playing and I was grateful. It suited everyone at that point and I’ve just been enjoying playing again and waiting for this period to come and see what’s next.”

However the game against Everton, in front of the television cameras at Cheltenham’s stadium, is not, he insists “a shop window” for him. “I don’t look at it like that,” Carter says.

“But every game is a chance to prove yourself. This game, of course, is a big one.”

As big, possibly, as that play-off final.

“I always thought I’d be lucky to match that elation. But that’s what you strive for.”

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