What The Papers Say - 28 March
A round-up of all things Everton in Monday's newspapers.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Everton cult hero Johnny Heitinga believes he can establish himself as an “important player” at Goodison – but not at right-back.
The versatile Dutchman has made just 17 league starts this season – only eight in his favoured position of centre-back – and was the subject of transfer speculation during the January transfer window.
But in a typically forthright and self assured interview following Holland’s 4-0 victory in Hungary on Friday night, Heitinga declared: “I feel I can still become an important player here for the Everton fans and the team.
“But I refuse to play in every position now. I don’t want to go back to right back again. I told the manager that.
“I’m not worried about the future. My career is still going up. I can tell that by the massive clubs who came knocking on the door for me in the winter.
“But I did not want to leave in the middle of a season and the club did not want to let me go.
“That was a good sign.”
After signing from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2009 Heitinga was used at right-back by the Blues.
It was a role he clearly disliked, but after a spell in central defence this season which included a mixed bag of results featuring a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham, an Anfield derby draw and a spectacular defeat of Blackpool - but no clean sheets, he has been used largely from the substitutes’ bench.
It is a situation he hopes will not last.
“I have certainly not come here to sit on the bench,” he explained. “Together with Phil Neville I have more experience than all the others. I have played in four major national team tournaments and I have played the World Cup Final.
“I belong to the 22 best players in the world and I belong to the four best central defenders in the world!
“Okay, I won’t exaggerate now. But make it the 10 best central defenders in the world!
“Once you’ve been on the biggest stage in the world and once you’ve played in the final of the World Cup it gives you a boost as a player. It is fantastic for your confidence.
“I don’t want to moan. At the end of the day it is down to me. Apart from not playing sometimes I love it here in England. I hope being out is a temporary thing. I will decide in the summer what I will do.
“But I will always claim that I am the best central defender at this club – definitely since the World Cup.
“I could understand it if the manager leaves me out of the team when I make big mistakes. The manager is not a big talker. Never has been.
“He does not explain his decisions to others either. He just says everybody will get playing time.
“Distin and Jagielka are big guys, almost half a head bigger than me. The manager prefers power in central defence, but I am convinced I can supply that power too.”
Heitinga also explained that he hoped to play European football with Everton, after being cup-tied for Everton’s Europa League run last season and experiencing Champions League football with Ajax and Atletico Madrid.
He added: “When I watch the Champions League on TV my stomach turns. I used to hear the hymn of the Champions League as an Ajax player in the stadium. Now I am lying on a couch in front of the telly here in England.
“I want to be in Europe again. I want to get there with Everton, but it is a big fight. We have a lot of competition.”
Everton's Tim Howard kept Lionel Messi and Co at bay with a one-man super show.
But the keeper could do nothing about Esteban Cambiasso's first-half goal. Juan Agudelo, 18, hit a shock equaliser.
US boss Bob Bradley admitted: "Tim is so valuable. His play kept us in the game."
John Heitinga has questioned the team selection of David Moyes – and will consider his Everton future in the summer if he remains on the bench.
Heitinga has failed to nail down a regular starting role at Goodison this season following a series of inconsistent performances and the form of Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka at the heart of defence.
Nevertheless, the 27-year-old claims to be the best centre-back at the club and insists he has told Moyes he no longer wants to fill in at right-back.
The Everton manager is likely to take a dim view of Heitinga’s comments, particularly having questioned the player’s focus during the months immediately following his World Cup final appearance last July.
And the Dutchman, who has started only one of the last six games following the watershed 2-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers in February, may have talked himself towards a Goodison exit.
“I have certainly not come here to sit on the bench,” said Heitinga. “Together with Phil Neville, I have more experience than all the others. I have played in four major national team tournaments and I have played the World Cup final.
“I don’t want to moan. At the end of the day it is all down to me. Apart from not playing sometimes, I love it here in England.
“But I refuse to go and play in every position now. I don’t want to be right-back again. I told the manager that.
“I am still aiming for big success here in England. Well, I have played 65 games in the Premier League in two seasons. That is a start.
“I hope being out is a temporary thing. I will decide in the summer what I will do.”
Heitinga added: “It’s strange for me to sit on the bench at Everton. I will always claim that I am the best central defender at this club.
“I could understand it if the manager leaves me out of the team when I make big mistakes. But right now I can’t get over the last few weeks.
“The manager is not a big talker. Never has been. He does not explain his decisions to others either. He just says everybody will get playing time.”