What The Papers Say - 19 September
A round-up of Wednesday's Everton news.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
KEVIN MIRALLAS hopes it won’t be long before he is lighting up Goodison.
But Everton’s exciting new Belgian striker has already enjoyed his first few experiences of a floodlit Goodison Park.
The 24-year-old scored twice on his full debut in the Capital One Cup – a night match against Leyton Orient – and received a warm ovation after a lively full Premier League debut against Newcastle on Monday evening.
And he admits he comes alive after dark. “I’ve always preferred playing night games myself,” he said. “That’s a personal preference of mine and I’ve been fortunate to have now played two games at Goodison, both at night.
“It’s a fantastic atmosphere and you always get the feeling that the fans are right behind you. Let’s hope they continue to be behind us all season.”
Mirallas believes he is still not at full match fitness, but when he is Blues fans will see him really start to sparkle.
After impressing against Newcastle he added: “I felt very comfortable out there. I saw a lot of the ball and I got a lot of support from my teammates. They were talking to me all through the game.
"I’m still conscious I’m not 100 per cent fit yet and I think I still need maybe two or three more games to get that full match fitness.
“I’ve been ready to work really hard. The main reason that I am hopefully settling in quite well and quite quickly is the fact that I’m really prepared to go all out – both in training and on the field.”
“I want to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in. That’s important and they are the kind of lessons I’ve learnt here so far.”
Boss David Moyes added: “He had three or four chances which he made himself.
“He will give us another attacking player who looks like he may have a goal in him. He scored a lot of goals in Greece and I think you could see that against Newcastle. Hopefully a few will go in for us.”
The young Belgian has also learned about the inconsistencies of refereeing in the Premier League, after Everton were denied victory and third place in the table by two poor decisions.
Victor Anichebe was denied a ‘goal’ despite his header crossing the goal-line, while Marouane Fellaini saw another incorrectly ruled out for offside.
“The disallowed goals were a shame,” he added, “but you can never really contest a referee or a linesman’s decision. That’s football and that’s sport.
“Sometimes it goes for you and others it goes against you. It would have certainly been three points for us if those goals had counted.
“On our first half display we deserved a handsome victory. But when you concede goals like that, you might deserve a win but you can get punished. That’s football - you concede and that’s the victory taken away from you.”
Victor Anichebe, who thought he had earned victory for Everton with a sweet finish two minutes from time, admits he is happy to learn from new arrivals like Mirallas and Nikica Jelavic as he seeks to reclaim a regular first team starting place.
“I am always happy just to be on the pitch as I’ve had some injuries in my time,” he said.
“It is nice for me to learn off Niki as he plays as that lone striker and he’s a great player.
“He plays between the centre-halves and that’s what I’m trying to do more instead of dropping off.
“Kevin had some good cameo runs and he is one of those players who always wants to do something on the ball.”
He was philosophical about not being awarded a goal earlier when the ball bounced down off the underside of the crossbar and went over the line before Mike Williamson cleared.
“Sometimes these things go against you but hopefully as the season goes on we’ll get some luck,” Anichebe added.
Everton’s next outing will come at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on Saturday and Anichebe added: “There’s always positives to take from the game and hopefully we go into the game at the weekend on a high.
“We played really well (on Monday). Obviously we’re not happy to concede goals but that’s football and hopefully we’ll have all those problems solved.”
Leighton Baines has insisted personal glory meant nothing to him on Monday, despite a man-of-the-match display against Newcastle.
Instead, the Everton left-back offered a touching tribute to the families of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, after an emotional Goodison evening dedicated to the memory of the victims of the 1989 tragedy.
Baines had a tear in his eye at the start of the game, as Everton recognised the achievements of the families who maintained a 23-year fight in the face of a attempt by the authorities to place the blame for the disaster on to Liverpool fans.
And there was good reason for that.
His dad, John, is a Liverpool fan who was at Hillsborough in the Leppings Lane end that fateful day 23 years ago, and survived the terrible events.
For Baines, his goal in Monday's 2-2 draw was a way of offering some support to the families who suffered so horrendously on that day, and have been forced to suffer ever since until being fully exonerated by last week’s independent report.
“I’d like to dedicate my goal to the Hillsborough families. But of course football as a game pales into insignificance when you are relating to what happened back then,” he admitted.
“What our club did before the game was a nice touch. Hopefully now people can move forward and hopefully they have gained some of the closure they have needed.
“It is hard to relate our game with something so huge as Hillsborough, but it was important for Everton as a club to show their respect to the families.”
Baines explained that it was hard for him to get too excited about the events of the game, even though his side were denied victory by two poor mistakes from the match officials.
Yet his performance was a major contributing factor in an Everton display that should have brought another three points, and their best start to a Premier League campaign in a decade.
He has combined brilliantly with Steven Pienaar since the South African returned to Goodison, to form a left-wing partnership described by Gary Neville as the “best there has been in the Premier League”, and a reason the former Manchester United man hung up his boots as a right-back!
For Baines though, it is still the defensive side of his game that is most important, and he admitted he was disappointed with the manner in which Everton let victory slip through their fingers.
“What is disappointing is Newcastle didn’t do anything special, they didn’t have any real play, they just played very direct got pretty much most of their joy from long balls and got their goals that way,” he added.
“We have got to be able to deal with stuff like that. They were pumping balls up time after time in the second half and Demba Ba gave them that bit more physical presence, but you must be able to defend that.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t and couldn’t hang on when Victor scored. Newcastle have good players up front and are strong and quick, but we’ve got to be able to deal with that more often than we did on Monday.
“It’s unusual for us not to see out the game. It’s very un-Everton like. It’s disappointing that we haven’t been done by a wonder goal or a magic piece of play. It was straightforward stuff. We feel both goals were preventable.”
Of course, Everton can still point to the fact they scored four perfectly good goals but had only two stand.
On a night of such significance to the people of Liverpool though, Baines was reluctant to push the issue.
“Yes, it’s disappointing - we scored five goals against Newcastle, four good ones, and we only got awarded two of them. That’s disappointing,” he said.
“But you think of what happened at Hillsborough and it really does mean nothing in comparison.”