The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
DAVID MOYES insists he will not harness his Everton side’s attacking instincts as they bid to land a rare victory at Old Trafford.
The Blues boss is ready to send out a team with the same bold game-plan as the one which saw them score four goals on Manchester United’s home turf last season.
There had been signs that the goals had dried-up for the Toffees last month with consecutive goal-less stalemates against Southampton and Swansea, but since then Moyes’ men have scored seven times in eight days, and he will call for more of the same against the table-toppers tomorrow.
He said: “You can go and have a go at them, but they open you up and you lose heavily. But I think that we’ll go there and try and do what we’ve done for most of the season.
“I don’t think we’ll suddenly go there and try and come up with anything different.Just like I don’t think they’ll come up with anything different. We’ll need to be better defensively though.
“We’ll need to not give them easy goals because if we do that it’s too hard to go and score four every time you go there.
“But I don’t think you can sit back and allow them to dictate the game. At times they will be in possession and will get control of the match, and at those times you have to try and see it out.
But whenever we can, we will try to make it as awkward as we can for them.”
Moyes hopes to have Marouane Fellaini, who has scored against the Red Devils in the last two clashes between the clubs, fit as the Belgian’s hip injury shows signs of healing in time for tomorrow.
“He is coming back into a little bit of form,” added Moyes, whose team are fifth in the table. “He scored a couple of goals for us last week and he is the sort of player who seems to enjoy the bigger games. He has got really bad bruising, but I think he will be okay.”
And Moyes is also satisfied that Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, who both picked up knocks in last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Aston Villa, will be available for selection.
However, Seamus Coleman – who has been missing since picking up a thigh injury against Southampton on January 19 – is facing at least another two weeks on the sidelines.
ALEX FERGUSON has admitted Everton will face a major problem when David Moyes eventually leaves Goodison Park.
Moyes has spent almost 11 years with the Toffees and is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the Barclays Premier League.
But his contract is due to expire in the summer and the Scot has been linked with a host of top jobs, including Manchester United when Ferguson eventually decides to call it a day.
Understandably, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is keen to keep Moyes on Merseyside, and the chances are, in the short-term at least, that is where the Scot will stay.
However, after spending so many years punching above their weight, Ferguson feels Everton may be in trouble should Moyes walk away.
“It’s obviously a concern for Everton,” said Ferguson. “It would be a big blow because he’s a good quality manager.”
Yet again this term, Moyes has shoved Everton up the table, ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool, and they are presently only three points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham.
Last time Everton qualified for the Champions League though, they failed to reach the group phase, part of a frustrating sequence of results in key matches that has stunted their progress.
Not that Ferguson views it has having any effect on Moyes’ CV.
“He’s had 10 years at Everton – you don’t survive 10 years in this game without making progress,” he said.
“His ability is obvious.
“Whether he gets in the top four doesn’t change my opinion of him, or anyone else’s.”
The bond between Ferguson and Moyes is strong.
Yet it was the 4-4 draw with Everton last season – the visitors rallying from 4-2 down with eight minutes to go – which arguably cost United a record 20th title and opened the door for Manchester City.
Then, at the start of this season, Marouane Fellaini scored the only goal at Goodison Park to put Everton in with a shot of their first league double over United since 1969.
“They have a genuine chance of being in the top four,” said Ferguson.
“The title race is between ourselves and City, but after that you’ve got Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton and even Liverpool, who are starting to get more consistency after that result last weekend. But Everton are there on merit. They are a difficult opponent. They have only lost three games, so they are obviously hard to beat. And that’s in the mould of David Moyes.
“He’s made gradual progress because when he first took over he didn’t have any money to spend.
“Given time you can do these things, which is the great value Everton have got out of David – each year he has progressed to good levels.”
The memory of Everton’s visit last term is seared into Ferguson’s mind. Twice United gained a position of comfort, only to toss it away in almost reckless fashion.
The issue has not entirely been addressed judging by the number of times the Red Devils have ended up hanging on this season in matches that appeared to be won.
Yet Ferguson feels a fundamental point has been rammed home.
“It is about anticipating the unexpected,” he said.
“We didn’t do that against Everton, after being 4-2 up with eight minutes to go, it definitely cost us the league. If we are 4-2 up with seven minutes to go this time it won’t happen again.”
Ferguson’s options have been bolstered by the return of Ashley Young from a five-match absence with a knee injury.
In addition, Phil Jones and Michael Carrick have recovered from the bout of shingles and hip problem respectively that kept them out of international duty in midweek.
STEVEN PIENAAR is in the form of his career as he prepares to take on Manchester United on Sunday, says David Moyes.
The midfielder returned to Goodison Park last January after a brief spell at Tottenham, and his manager believes he is showing ever increasing signs of maturity within the squad.
Moyes has an added incentive for Pienaar this weekend, as it was his goal that earned the Toffees a point at Old Trafford last season, coming back from 4-2 down in the closing stages.
Ahead of the return to the Barclays Premier League leaders tomorrow afternoon, who Everton beat 1-0 on the opening weekend, Moyes said: ‘I think Steven has been excellent ever since we got him back from Tottenham.
‘You see a bit more of a mature player now, and it’s benefiting the team. He takes ownership and is trying to help the team get better.
“He has done a really good job for us."
Phil Jagielka admits he can barely get a word in edgeways when the banter starts to fly with Wayne Rooney.
Yet the Everton defender is hoping to at least have the final say in his battle with Rooney if the pair go head to head at Old Trafford on Sunday - just as he did in the corresponding visit to his former team-mate and good friend's Manchester United side last season.
Rooney was in typically mischievous mood when he met up with his former Goodison colleagues Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Leon Osman on England duty in midweek.
But he reserved his best taunts for centre-half Jagielka, who's set to have the onerous task of marking Rooney, who’s scored an incredible 11 goals in his last 11 games, on Sunday.
And the Everton stopper admits that, under the circumstances, the best policy is to shut up and pray for the last laugh on Rooney and his Premier League leaders.
“Wayne says plenty, believe me,” Jagielka admitted with a smile.
“He’s always got plenty to say. When the game comes round he’s throwing all sorts of banter at you, and there was a bit of banter flying around this week!
“Obviously, this being Wayne, he’s expecting to score against us, and he made it clear he can’t wait to play against me at the weekend.
"That’s just Wayne, isn’t it? He loves his football.
“I don’t say much back - I just smirk at him, because the more you say to him the more you encourage him.
"Wayne is a fantastic player. I don’t want to be winding him up and give him any more reason to try to play well and score than he has already.
“I try to keep myself pretty quiet when he’s giving the banter, because this is Wayne Rooney we’re talking about, and I’ve got a tough enough job myself to come without encouraging him!”
For all his incredible goal-scoring form, Rooney will have some trepidation about Everton’s visit - and not just because he hasn’t got a great record against his old club, scoring just four times in 14 appearances since leaving the Toffees in 2004.
Two of those goals came last season... but in a game that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes cost his men the title.
Everton remarkably clawed their way back from two goals down with eight minutes to go at Old Trafford last April to grab a 4-4 draw and deprive the Reds of two points.
Jagielka, who lives in Manchester, still gets stick from United fans left gutted by the ripple-effect of a result that helped Manchester City pip them to the trophy on goal difference on the final day.
That result has only acted as inspiration for Everton says Jagielka, not least in setting them up for the current campaign, which still offers the tantalising promise of a top four finish.
“I don’t get much grief living in Manchester - I tend to go under the radar. But some die-hard Man U fans were still a little bit bitter after the season finished, giving me shouts that we’d cost them the title,” he explained.
“It wasn’t up to us to let them beat us. It wasn’t our fault, it was more Man U’s fault.
"Obviously Manchester United were not happy to have not won against us last season from the position they were in, and it had a major effect with them not winning the league.
“It was a big result for us in terms of the confidence it gave us.
"To go to Old Trafford and give such a performance, it gave us something to hold onto and carry into this season. When we got it back to 4-3 they seemed a little nervy, and you don’t often see United nervy.
“We have belief from that. But then, we have a good bit of quality in our squad, and we should be hard to beat.”
If Everton are to produce a similar result on Sunday, they can’t rely on such a stunning fightback - which means Jagielka must do what he couldn’t in midweek and silence Rooney!
One thing in the defender’s favour is that his old team-mate is still a confirmed Blue who just happens to have to wear red at work.
But the Goodison centre-half doesn’t believe that will do his side any good on Sunday, or in the future, despite some openly wondering if Rooney will one day return to the Merseyside club he loves.
“Wayne still tries to support Everton as much as you can as someone still playing the game at a high level. Definitely he’s still a Blue and still has affection for the club, but he won’t be doing us any favours!” he explained.
“He gets a lot of stick from our fans, and it was bound to be a little bit difficult when he left - it’s the way it goes when someone leaves the club: If they don’t slag you off and hate you, then you’ve not done very well for the club.
“I tell Wayne the reason why the fans went so ballistic is they loved him and wanted him to be part of Everton folklore.
“It wasn’t to be, and I don’t know if he will end up back here. We’d obviously welcome him back, but he’s done so much in his career and he’s not going to come back and not perform at the heights he’s done in his career.
“If he finished his career here he’d want to come back and make a difference, so the only way we could do that is to progress forward and get on his radar. It will be a tough one, it all depends on how his career pans out - he’s only 27 and still got a long time at the top level.”
For the moment, Rooney will content himself with tormenting his friend and former team-mate.
And Jagielka revealed there was an ominous exchange as the pair left Wembley on Wednesday night after the high of England's win over Brazil.
“The final thing he said to me was, ‘See you Sunday’, but with a massive smirk on his face. So what more can you say?!”.