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What The Papers Say - 24 January

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Everton v QPR
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The Echo

NEARLY 5,000 Everton FC fans will make the short trip to Bolton on Saturday for an FA Cup fourth round tie which has captured Evertonian imaginations.

But the Blues admit they could have sold twice that figure.

The Blues have bucked the national trend in the FA Cup in recent seasons.

While many clubs struggle to sell out Cup ties, David Moyes' men were watched by almost 7,000 travelling fans for a Wednesday night quarter-final replay at Sunderland last season.

And their allocation of 1,103 tickets for the televised Monday night trip to Cheltenham in this season's third round were snapped up within hours by season ticket holders who had to have attended at least seven Premier League away games to qualify.

Everton have made strenuous efforts to satisfy their supporters' appetite for this weekend's tie, but have been told that safety issues have prevented them receiving a greater allocation.

Everton fans will have the entire end usually reserved for visiting supporters at the Reebok Stadium, but the design of the stadium and the distribution of home season ticket holders means that attempts to also secure an entire side-section of the stadium have been knocked back.

According to FA rules, host clubs must offer a minimum of 15 per cent of their capacity to visiting supporters - a move which helps create the unique Cup tie atmosphere missing in some Premier League games.

Bolton have actually given Everton 16.2 per cent, and requests for even more have been rejected by the club's safety group - made up of Greater Manchester Police officials and local councillors.

Greater Manchester Police are notoriously cautious about visiting fan requests after experiences with Rangers supporters in recent seasons descending on Bolton for a pre-season friendly and Manchester city centre for a UEFA Cup final.

Saturday's clash has a traditional Saturday afternoon 3pm kick-off, but even despite Everton's most recent trip to Southampton being switched to Monday night for live TV screening, the Blues quickly sold out of their initial 1,750 allocation and had to ask for more.

The gate for Bolton's third round tie with Sunderland was just 12,000, but the Trotters are anticipating in the region of 17,000 at the weekend.

Bolton's six feet six inch centre-half Zat Knight is relishing the chance to lock horns with Everton's own in-form skyscraper, Marouane Fellaini, in the tie.

"I've played against him a few times and he's a real handful," said Knight, who is one of the few players who can look down on the six feet four inch Fellaini.

"You look at how he is playing in the Premier League and he's doing very well. He's probably been their main player.

"But I look at everyone as a test. It was Glenn Murray on Saturday at Crystal Palace, but if it's Fellaini this weekend, then fine. My target is still to be in the team and getting a clean sheet, the same as it is against anyone.

"It's probably going to be our biggest test this season because this is the best team we will have faced.

"But when you are playing well, you want to play anyone, regardless of whether it's the league or the cup.

"Let's see how well we have come on. We will need to be at our best because they have certainly not done too badly themselves."

One player who won't be involved in the FA Cup this weekend is Everton's on-loan midfielder Ross Barkley.

The Blues have refused permission for the 19-year-old to play for Leeds against Tottenham on Sunday.

"We asked the question, but it's perfectly understandable that he won't be available," said Leeds boss Neil Warnock.

The Post

SYLVAIN DISTIN is convinced Nikica Jelavic needs only one goal to kickstart his spluttering campaign - but warned Everton's players won't go easy on the misfiring forward.

Another blank at Southampton on Monday means Jelavic has netted just three times in his last 17 games and only seven times in 24 games all campaign.

It's in stark contrast to his impressive record last season, scoring 11 goals in 16 outings after arriving from Rangers in January.

Everton manager David Moyes has nevertheless kept faith in Jelavic, with the 27-year-old starting all bar three games this term.

And Distin is confident the striker has the mental strength to play himself back to his best.

"I'm not worried about Jela at all," said the French defender. "Maybe Jela isn't quite getting on the end of things like he has been. But he's still getting himself in the positions, and he is still creating chances for his team-mates. Now he just needs that final touch.

"Mentally, he is strong enough. I am sure he still believes in himself, so he doesn't need any help in that regard.

"But even if he does need some, we have such a good atmosphere in the dressing room that I'm pretty sure the lads aren't upset about it. We're all behind him. We all look out for each other.

"Once he gets one goal, the rest will come.

"Every striker in the world - well, except maybe Ronaldo and Messi - will have bad patches.

"That's the life of a striker. They will always have good patches and bad patches throughout a season."

With Kevin Mirallas having returned from a long-term hamstring problem and Victor Anichebe pressing for a recall to the starting line-up, Jelavic could be rested to the bench for Saturday's FA Cup fourth round tie at npower Championship side Bolton Wanderers.

And Distin has laughed off any suggestion of going easy on the Croatian during training at Finch Farm to help bolster the striker's confidence.

"I'm trying to help him out in training, but then I have to make a choice... is it him or me?" added Distin. "And I have to think about myself! It's not like he is 18-years-old and I'm going to let him score a few. That wouldn't do him any good.

"When he's out on the field during a match, the opposing defenders aren't going to let him score. They'll be defending hard against him.

"We have to do that in training and I'm sure we'll soon see his confidence coming back."

Everton have withheld permission for on-loan Ross Barkley to appear for Leeds United in their FA Cup fourth round tie against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend.

Goodison manager Moyes is unwilling to see Barkley cup-tied ahead of his scheduled return to Merseyside next month.

Leeds manager Neil Warnock said: "We're looking into whether he could play if Everton lose."

Meanwhile, Everton are waiting on tests on Seamus Coleman with fears growing the Republic of Ireland defender is facing another spell on the sidelines.

Coleman hobbled off during the second half at St Mary's after injuring his thigh while blocked a cross from Southampton's Luke Shaw.

The Echo

THERE is little change for Liverpool FC and Everton FC as Deloitte reveal their Football Money League with the Reds staying in ninth place in the index of European clubs' finances and the Blues remaining in the top 30.

Liverpool retain ninth position with a slight £5.1million (3%) increase in revenue to £188.7million.
The 2011/12 campaign was the third successive season in which the Reds failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. While the club benefited from certain new commercial deals in 2011/12, including the new Warrior kit deal, a turnaround in on-pitch fortunes, particularly qualifying for the Champions League, is key in order for the club to climb back up the Money League in the short-term.

The redevelopment of Anfield would help increase matchday revenues in the medium to longer term.
Despite a 2% decrease in revenue to £80.5m in 2011/12, Everton maintained their top 30 position in the Money League, ranking the club as the eighth highest revenue-generating club in England.

The new Premier League TV deal could see up to half of the 20 clubs on Deloitte's list hail from England in the years to come, with sides on the fringes such as the Blues set to see their revenues boosted.

The order of the top six remains exactly the same with Spanish champions Real Madrid at number one with revenue for the 2011/12 season of £414.7million (down from £433million the year before).

Arch rivals Barcelona are second with a revenue of £390.8million - reduced from £407million - followed by Manchester United £320.3million (£331.4million); Bayern Munich £298.1million (£290.3million); Chelsea £261million (228.6million); and Arsenal £234.9million (£226.8million).
Manchester City leap from 12th to seventh place.

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