What The Papers Say - 21 November
Distin joy at Gibson return, plus Blues linked to Cluj winger.
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SYLVAIN Distin has hailed the imminent return of midfielder Darron Gibson – as he insisted the Blues need him more than ever.
The Republic of Ireland international is in contention to make his first-team comeback for Everton against Norwich at Goodison Park on Saturday.
And Distin admits he is relieved at the prospect of having the 25-year-old back, especially in the absence of skipper Phil Neville – who is expected to be out for up to two months after undergoing knee surgery last week.
Distin played alongside Gibson – who has missed the last eight games with a thigh problem – as he came through a 63-minute run-out in Sunday’s Under-21 game against Reading and was impressed by his team-mate’s sharpness.
“He hasn’t played for a while now, nearly three months, so he did well,” he said. “His passing seems to be sharp so I think he’s doing good.
“I think we’ve missed him. He’s really important in our squad and we don’t have a big squad, so obviously if we can get a player back that will be beneficial.
“Phil is really important for the squad as well, his spirit and his mentality – he’s a real leader and we’re definitely going to miss him.
“But there’s no point crying about it. That’s football, it’s the way it is and we’re going to have to do without him.”
Now Distin is calling on his Everton team-mates to provide extra leadership while their 35-year-old captain is sidelined.
David Moyes admitted his side missed Neville during their 2-1 defeat by Reading on Saturday, and his injury setback coincides with a tough run of forthcoming fixtures against Norwich, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.
But Distin believes it is crucial that others shoulder the extra responsibility. He said: “It’s for us now to find a solution on the pitch. If one leader is missing maybe each player has to be a leader on their own and try to fill the gap. We can’t use it as an excuse.
“It’s a shame but it’s part of football – you’re always going to have injuries.”
THEY were international team-mates who bonded at high altitude in the mountains – but Kevin Sheedy hopes Chris Hughton is brought crashing down to earth on Saturday.
Sheedy considers the Norwich City boss a close pal after the pair represented the Republic of Ireland and were international team-mates for seven years between 1984 and 1991, even rooming together at Italia 90.
And although he has been highly impressed with Hughton’s tenure at Carrow Road so far, Finch Farm coach Sheedy admits the friendship will be on hold when the Canaries come to Goodison at the weekend.
“Chris Hughton is a good friend; I played a lot of times with him with Ireland,” said the Toffees legend. “I went to the 1990 World Cup and I got to know him really well.
“We were over in Malta for two weeks doing altitude training and then in Italy. When you room with someone, you get to know them well. “I’m really pleased that he has done well in his managerial career and he has been successful at every club he’s been to.
“He’s doing a good job at Norwich and it will be a tough game for us on Saturday, but hopefully we can win.”
After a slow start to life in the Norwich hot seat, Hughton has guided the East Anglian club to 13th place in the Premier League thanks to victories over Arsenal, Stoke City and Manchester United – and they are currently unbeaten in their last five games.
Hughton represented Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Brentford during his playing career before carving out a reputation as a coach with a 10-year spell as assistant boss at White Hart Lane.
And while Sheedy acknowledges he was surprised to see Hughton move into the world of management, he never doubted his coaching credentials.
He said: “You know players all along your career and some you don’t think are going to turn out to be managers, and Chris is one of those.
“As a coach, yes, but as a manager, I wasn’t sure. He’s proved that he can be a good manager and has had a good career.”
EVERTON shareholders association want to meet with the club’s owners to discuss its finances and push for the return of annual general meetings.
The group, which has around 1,200 members, has written to all of the club’s 1,705 shareholders asking them to support its bid for an extraordinary general meeting with Bill Kenwright and his fellow directors.
They insist the five-year absence of AGMs is unfair because they were never consulted about their scrapping, and are eager to put the spotlight on Everton’s progress with their search for an new stadium
Association chairman John Blain said: “We believe that in addition to being good corporate governance AGMs are still the most effective way for the board of the company to stay in touch with the majority of Shareholders.
“Established in the 19th Century by the founding fathers of the club the AGM's continued until the early part of the 21st Century.”
Everton are understood to believe that their current policy of talking to shareholders, and other supporters, outside of a formal AGM is a better way.
But in an official statement released yesterday, the association claim the club moved too quickly to side-step their obligation to hold AGMs.
It says, ‘The directors amended the company Articles of Association at the earliest legal opportunity to avoid the need to call AGMs.
‘No prior notice of the change was communicated by the directors to shareholders, giving them no opportunity to object.
‘No justification for the change has ever been given by the directors. The abandonment of AGMs breaks not only normal business practice as exhibited by most comparable companies, but also an otherwise unbroken tradition dating back to 1892 when the company was formed to finance the building of Goodison Park.
‘When asked their opinion, the members of the association and other shareholders have consistently and repeatedly expressed their desire for the return of AGMs.
‘No AGM has been held since the collapse of the Destination Kirkby project, thus shareholders have not been able to hear the board's plans regarding the ongoing stadium issue or to question financial issues’.
The statement adds that the club have previously promised to consider their request, but more recently insisted they have no plans to reinstate AGMs.
EVERTON manager David Moyes is ready to snap up Barnsley's John Stones.
Moyes' spies watched Stones for England's Under-19s team last week and have been tracking him all season.
The right-back is also on Chelsea's radar but would not be part of their first team in the near future.
QPR have joined the chase for £2million-rated FC Cluj winger Moudou Sougou, who impressed against Manchester United in the Champions League.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton have also shown an interest.