What The Papers Say - May 7
Match reports from Molineux, plus Blues linked with Baggie.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
Everton are ready to pounce for West Brom contract rebel Jonas Olsson with the defender's stay the The Hawthorns heading for an end this summer.
The towering Sweden international is yet to put pen to paper on a new contract and with just 12 months left to run, the Baggies could be forced to cash in on the 29-year-old rather than risk losing him on a free.
Toffees boss David Moyes is believed to be a huge admirer of 6ft 4in Olsson, whose future is further complicated by the uncertainty of departing manager Roy Hodgson's future replacement.
Olsson is prepared to wait until after Euro 2012 - in which he play against England in Ukraine this summer - before deciding his fate but the defender has previously hinted he wants to move on to a bigger club.
Everton are to monitor West Brom’s unsettled defender Jonas Olsson.
The 6ft 4in Swedish stopper has only 12 months left on his deal at The Hawthorns.
Olsson, 29, has been stalling on a new contract and wants to consider his options.
He is set to play for Sweden at Euro 2012 and is aiming for a bigger club.
And Albion owner Jeremy Peace will sell the giant star if the stalemate continues, rather than risk losing him for free on a Bosman.
Everton secured another valuable point in their quest to finish in front of Liverpool, Wolves were awful and there was the customary end-of-season Mexican wave. It was that kind of day: predictable and forgettable.
The home support did their best to provide a lighter touch to an otherwise drab afternoon, celebrating non-existent goals and raising a vocal toast to players who will surely leave Molineux during the summer. The exit of players such as Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher seems to be the inevitable consequence of relegation for a club that will spend much of the summer chasing the best man to succeed Mick McCarthy. Terry Connor, who took over as caretaker in February, is the players’ favourite. Unfortunately, on the evidence of this performance, it will need more than Connor’s hearty enthusiasm to secure an immediate top-flight return.
Everton have no such worries, but David Moyes will be concerned by his team’s profligacy here. Marouane Fellaini’s point-blank header went wide of Dorus de Vries’s far post before Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic wasted golden chances.
Assistant manager Steve Round said: “We created enough opportunities to win the game but unfortunately we were a little bit wasteful in front of goal. We’ve got one game left and if we win that game we will finish seventh. The players want to finish as high up the league as they can and if that’s above Liverpool even better.”
Wolves created precisely nothing and Connor said: “Everton have not lost in seven, so to get a clean sheet, from our point of view, it’s a good effort. We wanted to leave the fans with something positive to go home with, so if we couldn’t win it, we wanted to take something from the game.”
The draw kept Everton a point above Fulham in the race for seventh place, with Liverpool a further three points behind but with a game in hand.
Everton had a good early chance when Tim Cahill shot straight at Dorus De Vries, and they were left with a feeling of injustice in the 28th minute when Jelavic was flagged offside as he fired past the keeper, with TV replays showing the Croatian was level with the last man.
Wolves' best chance was a header from Christophe Berra which went over the bar, and the pattern continued after the interval, with Marouane Fellaini and Jelavic particularly wasteful when presented with good openings.
Jelavic thought he had made amends in the 73rd minute, when his cross was turned in by Stracqualursi at the far post, but Fellaini, who had also lunged for the ball, was a yard offside.
The Everton assistant manager, Steve Round, admitted the side had paid for a lack of composure in front of goal, saying: "The players are disappointed in the dressing room. We had enough dominance in possession and created enough opportunities definitely.
"We just couldn't take that defining moment, whether it was the pass or the final shot, and obviously we had a really good goal disallowed. I thought the second one was offside, Fellaini doesn't touch the ball but he does go for it, which makes him interfering. Recently we've been playing as well as that but taking the chances, and today we didn't."
Connor was again reluctant to discuss his own future after his winless record since taking over from Mick McCarthy in February stretched to 12 games. "I finish on 13 May. I'll give the club a full review of the season and the club will decide what path to take and how they want to regain their Premier League status. I'll abide by whatever decision is made."
Everton's hopes of confirming themselves as Merseyside's top team this season were put on hold after this stalemate with already-doomed Wolves, where the gallows humour of a demob-happy home crowd often provided better entertainment.
Midway through the second half, by which point it was becoming clear even Everton's desire to finish above Liverpool could not trick them into a breakthrough, supporters on the South Bank began going through a repertoire of self-mocking songs and chants to ensure the faithful departed in good cheer after a season of desperate disappointment for Wolves.
It began with ironic calls of "Ole!" whenever their side put together a coherent move, which was not very often, and continued with chants of "Let's pretend we've scored a goal" followed by two sustained outbursts of cheering and a refrain of "Two-nil to the mighty Wolves". Then came a tongue-in-cheek chant of "Connor for Albion", aimed without apparent malice towards Wolves' interim manager Terry Connor, and the darker "F*** the team and we'll build a stand", a swipe at the owner-chairman, Steve Morgan, and chief executive, Jez Moxey.
When the public-address announcer informed spectators that there would be four minutes of added time, booing broke out before the cry of "We want three" rose up from the South Bank. Earlier, to add to the sense of unreality, two pitch invaders had broken out of the stand housing Everton's followers, one brandishing a cardboard cut-out of the FA Cup. Pursued by orange-clad stewards they jinked around the pitch like 1950s Scottish wingers being apprehended.
To compound the end-of-season atmosphere, the Everton manager, David Moyes, ducked his post-match press conference, sending in his assistant, Steve Round, to reveal that his players were "disappointed" not to have scored after creating "enough chances to win the game". Moyes, he explained, was tired of being asked about the possibility of finishing ahead of their neighbours for only the second time in 25 years. "The players want to come as high as they can. If that's above Liverpool, even better. If we beat Newcastle at Goodison next Sunday, we've done it."
Round justifiably suggested Everton had "a perfectly good goal disallowed" during the first half, when Nikica Jelavic's pace deceived a linesman into incorrectly flagging for offside before he fired past Dorus De Vries. "From our penalty box up to theirs we played some intelligent, attacking football, but the final pass or shot wasn't quite there," he added. "It was always going to be a tough game because Wolves wanted to send the fans home happy."
Connor's assessment confirmed as much. "It was important to try to leave them with something positive to go home with for the summer," said Mick McCarthy's former assistant, who has achieved four draws and no wins in 12 matches since the latter's sacking in February. Connor's contract expires at the end of the month, although he will take the team at Wigan next Sunday. "We signed up for a 38-game season, so we have to make sure for the integrity of the league that we do our job properly. If we can win or draw that will be three games without defeat."
A dignified figure who remains popular with the players, Connor at least avoided the indignity of seeing Wolves equal the Premier League record of 14 home losses twice posted by Sunderland. Everton, for whom England's Phil Jagielka was imperious at centre-back, had the more clear-cut chances but, given the fragility of Wolves, this, surely, was an opportunity squandered.
David Moyes is so sick of being asked about the prospect of finishing above Liverpool that he ducked the chance to talk after this game.
But Moyes is still on course to secure the Merseyside bragging rights for the first time since 2005 despite watching his troops waste a string of chances in this grim stalemate.
The game was so dreadful that the only highlight came five minutes from the end when two Everton supporters invaded the pitch, with one holding a mock FA Cup, in tribute to Liverpool’s defeat at Wembley on Saturday.
That only illustrates just how much ending the season as top dogs would mean to Everton, even if Moyes himself is refusing to get excited about it.
Liverpool are four points behind their bitter rivals ahead of tomorrow night’s chance of revenge against Chelsea but the maths for Moyes are simple.
Win against Newcastle on the final day and he will have recorded yet another significant achievement during his spell in charge of the Toffees - especially when you consider how much cash Kenny Dalglish has spent in the last three transfer windows.
His No. 2 Steve Round said: “The players want to finish as high up the league as they can and if they can finish above Liverpool then even better.
“David said it’s all he gets asked about at the moment! It’s in our destiny and we have to win next week against Newcastle.
“We’re formidable at Goodison and no team would want to come there on the last day of the season having to win. If we win that game we’ll finish seventh.
“The players are disappointed because we created enough opportunities to win and were a little bit wasteful in front of goal.
“We’ve been playing as well as that recently but we’ve taken the chances and today we didn’t.”
Everton had scored four goals in three of their last four league games but their finishing deserted them here, as Wolves avoided equalling a Premier League record of 11 successive home defeats.
Molineux has been a house of horrors for Wolves this season and their last home win, over Sunderland on December 4th, seems light years away.
At least their fans waved goodbye to the Premier League in style, with a selection of chants sprinkled with the best in Black Country gallows humour.
When the fourth official indicated four minutes of injury time, the South Bank sang “we want three!”, and there were cruel chants of “Connor for Albion” as Wolves secured only their third point under Mick McCarthy’s replacement.
This should have been another defeat but somehow Everton failed to make their total superiority count.
Tim Cahill and James McFadden both wasted chances while the visiting fans nearly experienced an “I was there” moment when Tony Hibbert came agonisingly close to ending his drought.
Hibbert has made over 250 appearances without scoring and sent a deflected drive onto the roof of the net, nearly causing a riot in the away end.
Steven Pienaar should have punished Richard Stearman for a defensive slip soon after but skied his shot high over the crossbar before Nikica Jelavic had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.
Wolves improved in the second period but never looked like securing a first victory for Connor.
And Jelavic, who has proven so deadly since his £5m switch from Rangers in January, missed another glorious chance late on to complete an excruciating afternoon for Moyes.
But the glorious prospect of finishing above their rivals across Stanley Park remains very much alive.