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So it was job done over in Olomouc, not that it was really ever in doubt of course after that four nil first leg victory! Only one real scare and that was the rather harsh dismissal of Tony Hibbert (or was it Gary Hibbert as our official team sheet stated!!........maybe that means he won’t be banned for our first group game, Gary will have to serve the suspension instead!!).
I have to say that it was a nice change to go on a European trip in fairly relaxed mode. No-one was taking anything for granted of course but it did feel different than recent second leg qualifiers where the pressure’s really been on us and it’s felt more like a final than a play off to secure qualification. Those trips to Villareal, Kharkiv and Liege were all tension filled. Over in the Czech Republic there was certainly a determination to complete the job but you could sense a pleasant atmosphere, from the media pack right through to the players.
Now for the real thing, the group stages and beyond. I’m penning this blog prior to the draw being made (rather bleary eyed after our trip back from Olomouc!) but I have to say there are some very tasty teams in the draw. Looking at the top seeded sides (Everton are second seeds) there’s some real quality in there which means at least one very attractive tie by the looks of it. Can’t wait! Six european ties prior to Christmas is fantastic and what the club should be striving for each and every year.
So there’s a busy period coming up and it’s always great to be a part of that. For David Moyes it’s always busy, none more so I suppose than the next few days as he tries to finalise a few more deals. The good news so far is the acquisition of our Russian winger (more on that in a moment) and Sylvain Distin (Hopefully all will be finalised on that transfer today or at least over the weekend). Distin’s got great Premier League experience and is a player who can also fill in at left back if required. Personally I think it’s a good move for him and Everton. He can do a decent job for a number of seasons and I’m sure it’s not been that easy for the boss to find a quality left sided centre back who’s been willing or available to move.
Now for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. A 24 year old Russian winger with a name that’s a nightmare for us commentators! Obviously all the lads have already christened him “Billy” and are looking forward to having him on board. He is a real quality international footballer. I can’t say I’m looking forward to trying to get to grips with the pronunciation but it’s a case of having to! My first lesson will come on Saturday lunchtime when I’ll be presenting City Sports Terrace Talk programme between 12 and 2 with Ian Snodin and Ian St John. We’ve already made contact with Andrei Kanchelskis who’s going to join us as guest on the phone on the show. He’ll be able to give us the definitive pronunciation as well as providing us with further insight on “Billy”. If Diniyar Bilyaletdinov turns out to be anywhere near as good as Kanchelskis was for us I think we’re in for a treat!Do tune in.........12-2 on Saturday lunchtime 96.7 or City Talk 105.9, it should be quite a laugh trying to get Snods to pronounce “Bilyaletdinov”
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