What The Papers Say - 01 December 2012
Moyes on Lescott, plus Ossie's England 'mo'-tivation.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
David Moyes has admitted he would jump at the chance to re-sign Joleon Lescott if the defender feels he needs to seek a loan move from Manchester City.
The Everton manager sold Lescott to City in August 2009 for £23million. Although the money allowed him to reshape his squad, Moyes, who takes his side to the Etihad Stadium today, never really wanted the England defender to leave.
Moyes is looking to bolster his defence and has watched Molde’s Vegard Forren twice this month. But Lescott, who is entering the final 18 months of his contract, has been forced to play a bit-part role for City this season and has not featured since October 27.
Whether City would allow Lescott to leave in January is debatable, as they need cover when Kolo Toure heads for the Africa Cup of Nations. If that changed, however, Moyes would consider an enquiry.
‘If Joleon wanted to come back, and if I thought we needed him, I’d be delighted to have him back,’ said Moyes. ‘I’d have no problem having Joleon back. I’ve not thought about it but if he was available then he’d be someone I would show an interest in.’
Although Lescott left Everton in acrimonious circumstances, Moyes has never hidden his admiration for him as a player and when he tracked him at Wolves during the 2005/06 season, he compiled a dossier of 24 reports - 23 of which came back with top marks from his scouts.
‘When Joleon left, we were in a different place to where we are now,’ said Moyes. ‘I think there’s more solidity and Everton look more likely now to be at the top end than we were then. I could understand why the player wanted to go, there was a big project going on at Manchester City.
‘But it still was a disappointing one for me. I saw Jags (Phil Jagielka) and Joleon as being at that time behind John Terry and Rio Ferdinand as the next England partnership. Maybe I’m not that far off the mark, with where they are now.’
That Moyes has spoken about his admiration for Lescott has added an intriguing subplot to what promises to be one of the games of the day and Everton certainly travel to the Etihad Stadium in positive spirits.
When they last made the journey in September 2011, Moyes said he felt as if he was ‘walking into a gunfight with only a knife’, but City will not underestimate Everton this time, particularly as they have been a bogey team for Roberto Mancini.
Mancini has finished on the losing side five of the six times he has managed against Moyes and Everton were the last team to beat City at the Etihad Stadium in December 2010 - 36 games ago.
Leon Osman was part of the Everton squad that day and his form this season has mirrored that of his club. His rewards came when Roy Hodgson gave him his England debut against Sweden last month. After taking part in Movember, there is good reason why he wants to win a second cap.
‘I debated whether I should get rid of the moustache,’ said Osman. ‘But it’s a charity thing we’re doing and I’m not vain enough to care about things like that. If it is my only experience with England then so be it.
‘But hopefully I will be able to get more and I’d have the second one without! It’s a cliché but if you want more of it, you have to earn it and keep on playing the way you are. We have to keep Everton playing the way we are, but get the results as well.’
DAVID MOYES is ready to take Joleon Lescott back at Everton – despite the huge row that surrounded his exit from Goodison.
Everton boss Moyes was furious at the sale of England defender Lescott to oil-rich Manchester City after two public bids and a transfer request were snubbed.
But three years on, Moyes holds no grudges over the loss of the £22m centre-half with theJanuary transfer window just a month away. And Lescott, a firm favourite with fans before the rift, has lost his place in the champions’ defence to new Roberto Mancini signing Matija Nastasic.
Moyes said: “If Joleon wanted to come back - if I thought we needed him - I’d be delighted to have him back. I’d have no problem having Joleon back.
“I’ve not thought about it but if he was available then I think he’d be someone I would maybe show an interest in.”
Moyes axed Lescott in the bitter build-up to his move, citing his “bad attitude” and claiming his head had been turned by City’s public courtship.
But he said: “When Joleon left, Everton were in a different place to where we are now. Everton look more likely now to be at the top end than they were then.
“So I can understand why the player wanted to go – there was a big project going on at City, but it was still disappointing for me. I saw Jags and Joleon as being behind Terry and Ferdinand as the next England partnership, and maybe I’m not that far off the mark.”
Everton have since sold another star to City, collecting £12m in August for 21-year-old midfi eld prospect Jack Rodwell, who has gone on to play for England.
Moyes admitted: “I didn’t see it coming, but it allowed us to address one or two other things. It allowed me to go and get Kevin Mirallas for example.”
Rodwell won’t face Everton today after suffering another hamstring problem, his sixth hamstring injury in 12 months.
Moyes said: “It was a difficult decision to sell an up-and-coming England player. I’m disappointed for Jack. He’s a really good lad and a great lad to work with.”
Everton manager David Moyes has left the door open for the return of England defender Joleon Lescott, whose controversial departure to Manchester City three years ago left a bitter taste at Goodison Park.
Lescott, who became a mainstay of Everton’s team after a transfer from Wolverhampton Wanderers, eventually joined Manchester City for £22 million in August 2009 following two public offers that were turned down along with the rejection of Lescott’s written transfer request.
Everton, however, will not face their former team-mate at the Etihad Stadium today. Despite playing 31 league games during last season’s title campaign, Lescott, 30, has lost his place in Roberto Mancini’s team to 19 year-old Serbian Matija Nastasic.
Moyes, who has said a lack of funds will restrict him to loan signings in the January window, said: “If Joleon wanted to come back – if I thought we needed him – I’d be delighted to have him back. If he was available then I think he’d be someone I would maybe show an interest in.”
Moyes dropped Lescott from his squad prior to his exit, citing the player’s “bad attitude” and claiming that his head had been turned by City’s public courtship, but he has mellowed in his view of the move.
He said: “When Joleon left, Everton were in a different place to where we are now. So I can understand why he wanted to go, there was a big project going on at Manchester City. It was still disappointing for me.”
Mancini is under pressure to salvage a place in the Europa League from City’s failed Champions League campaign with the club’s Abu Dhabi regime determined to ensure European football in the second half of the season.
City, who on Saturday will be defending their unbeaten start to the league season and a run of 36 games without defeat on home turf in the Premier League, must beat qualified Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday and hope that Ajax lose to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu to claim a place in the Europa League knockout stages.
With the City hierarchy mindful of the prestige that comes with performing on the European stage, plus the opportunity to boost the club’s coefficient ranking and standing among the continent’s elite, Mancini admits that the advantages of playing in the Europa League outweigh the disadvantages.
“Yes, we want to be in the Europa League – this is normal,” Mancini said. “It is another competition and another trophy to try to win.
“Maybe, when it starts in February, it is not so important and could be a problem because we play more games. But if you arrive in the semi-final or the final it becomes an important competition for us, so for this reason we want to stay in Europe.”
With City needing to win in Dortmund, Mancini is likely to eschew the opportunity to rest key players ahead of next Sunday’s derby against Manchester United at the Etihad.
But the Italian admits there is a desire to make amends for the poor Champions League performances, which have led to the club failing to progress beyond the group stage for the second successive season.
“The chairman [Khaldon Al Mubarak] is happy with the way we are going in the Premier League, and we have the FA Cup to come,” Mancini said. “But obviously they [Abu Dhabi] are so disappointed about the Champions League.
“This is normal because our target, when we started the competition, was to get to the knockout stage and anything can happen when you arrive there.
“But we didn’t do well and, for this reason, I think they are disappointed, but they understand it takes time to succeed in the Champions League.
”Last season, for instance, Borussia Dortmund went out at the group stage with only four points, but this season they are looking like one of the teams who can win the competition.
“One year can change everything. We made some mistakes on the pitch but this is the Champions League.”
Mancini, who confirmed that midfielder James Milner faces a battle to be fit for the United game after injuring a hamstring in the midweek victory at Wigan, has not tasted a Premier League defeat at the Etihad since Everton’s 2-1 triumph in December 2010.
DAVID MOYES admits he would be tempted to bring Joleon Lescott back to Everton on loan in January.
The England international is currently out of favour at Manchester City – the club he left Goodison for in a £22m summer 2010 switch.
Lescott has made 75 appearances for City and helped them win the Premier League title last season, but has fallen behind youngster Matija Nastasic in the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium after a recent spell on the sidelines.
The 30-year-old was troubled by a back injury earlier this month but has been available for the last four games and unable to reclaim his place, with speculation mounting that he could be deemed surplus to requirements in the new year.
Moyes, who has also been weighing up a move for Molde defender Vegard Forren as he bids to strengthen his leaky back line in January, insists he would have no problem working with a player he fell out with before his drawn-out move to Manchester.
He said: “I’ve not thought about it but if he was available then I think he’d be someone I would maybe show an interest in.
“If Joleon wanted to come back, if I thought we needed him, I’d be delighted to have him back, I’d have no problem having Joleon back.”
Lescott insists he is prepared to bide his time for now.
“I’ve been fit for a couple of weeks now and while it was disappointing to be left out of the squads at Chelsea and Wigan, the manager has to pick a team and bench that he thinks can do a job on the day and I respect that,” he said.
“It is tough being out of the team and frustrating because it’s natural to want to play every game, but if anyone comes in and does well, why would you change things?
The situation means the former Wolves defender is unlikely to feature as his former club visit Eastlands today.
“I always look forward to playing Everton, but it’s never less than a tough game for us as well so I’ve mixed feelings, I suppose,” he added.
“I’d like to think I had a good relationship with the supporters when I was at Goodison Park so it’s a shame that didn’t continue after I’d left, but it happens in football and it’s understandable that they were upset.
“I think the fact we’ve won the Premier League and FA Cup since I came to City has proved my decision to have been a good one and it’s one I don’t regret, but I enjoyed my time at Everton and have a lot of good memories of playing for the club.”
EVERTON legend Neville Southall has backed current Blues keeper Tim Howard and says the US international doesn’t need competition for his place in order to play well.
Howard, who hasn’t kept a clean sheet for 10 games now, has found his form under the microscope this season and was criticised in some quarters for Norwich’s last-minute equaliser at Goodison Park a week ago.
Boss David Moyes was also linked with a move for former Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon this week to help keep Howard on his toes but Southall doesn’t think the American needs the presence of another senior player in his position at the club to produce good performances.
He said: “Tim’s done well at Everton – exceptionally well. If you look at people all the time you can pick faults in their game but I think Tim is as good as anybody in the Premier League.
“I think the criticism of him is very harsh but then goes with the job for goalkeepers.
“Joe Hart’s been going through a bit of a dodgy time of late but I don’t see any clamour to replace him.
“Tim Howard is far from finished. He’s an outstanding goalkeeper and just because Everton haven’t got the results they’d have been hoping to get in recent weeks, people are looking at him.
“Tim has been slaughtered for not coming for the cross for Norwich’s equaliser at Goodison Park but I don’t think he could have got to it anyway.”
Southall, who maintained his own high standards at Goodison for many years without ever seriously being challenged for the number one jersey, does not believe that extra competition for places is the answer.
However, he has questioned the role of Howard’s current understudy at the club, Jan Mucha.
The Slovakian international arrived at the Blues in the summer of 2010 after turning out in the World Cup finals but now in his third season with the club, he is yet to feature in a Premier League game.
Southall said: “People are saying that Tim needs competition but what is Jan Mucha doing?
“If they reckon Tim isn’t being pushed hard enough, perhaps they need to push Jan Much too because otherwise what is he doing at the club?
“If he’s not providing the competition for places then they should get rid of him.
“Tim will be hurting at the moment but think of the number of games he’s kept Everton in it and his own form is nothing to do with competition for places.
“Olympic gold medallists don’t have competition for places when they’re training, it’s your own personal pride and ambition to push yourself as far as you can that spurs you on.
“If they did bring another goalkeeper in then it would obviously be a kick up the a*** from the manager – not that Tim needs it.”
Given that former £9million keeper Gordon was released from Sunderland due to injury problems, it remains questionable how hard he would realistically push Howard for a regular first team berth so if Everton are to recruit a new goalkeeper in the future, Southall believes it should be a serious contender for the number one spot.
He said: “The only one I’d think would be available in the Premier League is Robert Green and I don’t think he’s any better than Howard.
“Other than that there’s Jack Butland and Wayne Hennessey.”
A YEAR ago David Moyes likened a trip to face Manchester City as like taking a knife to a gunfight. The line was from the Untouchables and at times last term with David Silva weaving his magic, City were the Unplayables.
But even though Roberto Mancini’s men have still not lost at home since Everton beat them at the Etihad stadium in 2010, Moyes admits that the task of defeating them on home turf today is not quite as fiercely daunting.
That isn’t to suggest Moyes believes City no longer represent the toughest of tests for any visiting side, but he knows his own team have evolved since that frank assessment in 2011.
“I feel a bit better,” says the Scot who is hoping to close the gap on fourth-placed West Brom by ending City’s remarkable 36-game unbeaten run in East Manchester this afternoon.
“If you think about where we were this time last year and at that time Man City were flying.
“We went into that in a real difficult situation and we put up a really good show, we were unlucky in the end not to take something from it.
“It’s very hard to just say you’re going to attack teams. I watched Chelsea and Man city and they found it hard to attack them because they’re a really good team.”
Moyes deployed Jack Rodwell to man-mark Silva last term and set his stall out to stifle the home side, a shrewd formation that almost worked before a booking limited the Everton midfielder’s remit and City ran out eventual 2-0 winners courtesy of goals from Mario Balotelli and James Milner, who will miss today’s game.
“People who were looking at it would understand where Everton were at that time, and maybe said they’ve tried to go there and get themselves a result – and let’s be fair, for 70, 75 minutes we’d done a job. It needed to be,” says Moyes.
“At that time David Silva was the best player in the Premier League and running every game. Every game I’d seen him play he was outstanding and still is.”
While there has been no love lost in this fixture over recent seasons, particularly since the £22m sale of Joleon Lescott to Mark Hughes’ City in 2009, Moyes knows that cash from that deal – and the £10m sale of Jack Rodwell in the summer – have helped his club progress.
“We have used the monies that we got from them as well as we can, and the club will always be bigger than any player or manager,” he says.
“You lose a player, he wants to leave, then fine, you have to find a solution and fix it. That’s what we’ve had to do.
“It was difficult (selling Rodwell) because he’s a young up and coming England international and I’ve tended not to do that, I’ve tended to hold and keep those players.
"But I knew that I probably needed to find something from somewhere and the only solution was possibly Jack. I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t think there was a deal in the offing.
“When it did, I thought maybe it allows us to address one or two others, it allowed me to go and get Kevin Mirallas for example.
“And because of that it gave me the feeling I could be a bit more offensive, a bit more attack minded if we could get another forward who could score us some goals.
“When Joleon left, Everton were in a different place to where we are now.
“I know we had a year we finished fourth, but if you look at Everton today I think there’s more solidity, and Everton look more likely now to be at the top end than they were then.
“So I can understand why the player wanted to go, there was a big project going on at Manchester City but it still was a disappointing one for me.
“I saw Jags and Joleon as being at that time behind Terry and Ferdinand as the next England partnership, and maybe I’m not that far off the mark, where they are now.”
With question marks remaining over the fitness of key players like Kevin Mirallas and now Leighton Baines ahead of today’s showdown, Moyes is glad to be able to call on durable veterans like Leon Osman – who he has deployed in a deeper role in skipper Phil Neville’s absence.
“I used him wee bit deeper the other night because with Phil Neville out of the team he has to take on that role a little bit for us,” he says.
“We’d like to get him a bit nearer the edge of the box a bit more, where he can sort of tricky-dicky a little bit.
“The nature of the game (v Arsenal), we needed him.
“He’s had to take over a bit of that role in the middle of the park, being around and not leaving the middle of the pitch too often and being in position.
“Whereas we’d be quite happy to let him go and have a wander and maybe get around the edge of the box a bit more and nick a goal sometimes.
“I’ve said many times he’s got good football savvy which means that you tell him and he understands and he’ll do it to the best of his ability.”
Another midfielder Moyes will be glad to have at his disposal today is Steven Pienaar, who appeared to have rediscovered top form against the Gunners.
Moyes added: “It was the best he’d played for a long time. I didn’t want to break up the balance of Pienaar and Baines because they’ve been playing so well.
“But because I don’t want to be predictable I will move Steven now and again so people can’t plan for it.
“He’s had four or five games where he’s just been a bit off-colour, it was good to get him back at the level which we know he can play at.”
BARRY HORNE: JOLEON LESCOTT was one of a long list of players to join Everton under David Moyes, who came from relative obscurity to find their career
trajectory take a decidedly upward curve.
A fairly expensive gamble, at £5m from Wolves, Moyes’ instincts on Lescott proved correct. Player of the Year in 2008, he established himself as an England international at Goodison, and as a goalscoring defender. He scored ten goals in one memorable campaign.
The circumstances surrounding his departure could have been handled a lot better from his side, but I remember writing at the time that it was likely to be the agent, not the player, creating the majority of the tension.
Everton, as ever, handled the situation brilliantly, getting a very good fee for the player, and reinvesting that money into their squad.
Lescott (pictured), for his part, has done well since his move, continuing his international career and emerging as a regular in Manchester City’s title-winning side. Statistically, last season he was one of the best defenders around. Not bad for a defender who made his name at Everton as an attack-minded full back.
Roberto Mancini’s style of management, it seems, is not about man-management. He places little store in making players feel loved or valued, preferring, to an outsider, to generate friction and conflict among an extraordinarily talented squad.
His assistant, David Platt, has been unable to give a satisfactory answer as to Lescott’s future, with some reports linking him back to Everton, on loan.
Why not? He had great success here, and David Moyes knows him better than anyone. The supporters may find it hard to forgive, but they managed it with Steven Pienaar. It could be a good deal all round.
MOVEMBER may be over but that doesn’t mean all the facial hair will quickly be shaved clean at Finch Farm.
This week Kevin Sheedy has been sporting some unusual facial topiary all in aid of charity. The Blues legend is backing Beating Bowel Cancer’s ‘Decembeard’ campaign following his own battle with the disease. The charity is encouraging people to sport a beard during December and get sponsored to grow, make or fake a beard.
Kevin was diagnosed with bowel cancer in the summer and following successful surgery is back coaching the Academy team. He now wants to raise awareness of the condition and get more people to recognise the symptoms.
He said: “I knew something wasn’t right as I was going to the toilet more often than normal and when I noticed I was passing blood I knew I had to visit to the doctor. I lost my mum to bowel cancer and my dad had a successful operation, but it was still a shock to be diagnosed. Thankfully I got help early and I was able to have an operation which was successful. Now I’ve teamed up with the charity Beating Bowel Cancer to help raise awareness of the condition to ensure more people go to the doctor when they experience symptoms; it’s so important not to bury your head in the sand.
To find out more visit www.beatingbowelcancer.org/decembeard.
Marouane Fellaini strode out of the main building at Everton’s Finch Farm training ground and into the car park.
He is six-foot four-and-a-half inches tall. And considerably bigger when you add his hair.
He walked past the fancy cars, the BMWs, the Ferrari, the 4x4s.
Then he stopped next to a Vauxhall Corsa, opened the door and shoe-horned himself into the driver’s seat.
“See,” he said, pointing at himself with a mischievous grin as he began to drive off. “Normal guy.”
That’s what he had been saying earlier.
Pointing at his feet in his yellow flip-flops. Indicating they were firmly on the ground.
“He’s not bothered about material things,” said Everton captain Phil Neville. “The lads love him.”
Normal guy, maybe. Abnormal talent, certainly. His goal against Arsenal on Wednesday was a reminder of that.
Big character too. He has been picked by American sportswear company Warrior to be the first player to wear their new boots this weekend.
The colour scheme is not exactly subdued, but Fellaini has the style to wear them well.
He is, in fact, a man in demand.
As January approaches, he is rumoured to be the No.1 transfer target for a host of other top clubs.
Everton are desperate to hang on to him and Fellaini is grateful to the club and David Moyes for giving him his chance and insists he would be happy to stay.
He has earned more rave reviews this season as Moyes has encouraged him to play in a more forward role.
And he will be seen as the main threat to Manchester City’s unbeaten record when the two teams meet on Saturday.
“I think I am a defensive midfielder,” the 25-year-old said. “But the manager thinks I can play number 10, number eight, number six, so I play wherever he wants and I give my maximum.
“I prefer defensive midfielder because I know my job when I play there. More things are in front of you.
“It is difficult to play with your back to goal. It is not my position but the manager likes me there and I am happy to do it.
“I don’t have a goal target. Now I have more chances to score because I play in front but scoring is not my obsession.
“It’s the same for me whether I score or other guys score.
“Some people say there is a beauty about defending. Beauty is nice but the most important thing is success.
“If you have beauty but win nothing, it is no use.”
Fellaini, a Belgian of Moroccan descent, is keen to test himself on Saturday afternoon against his countryman Vincent Kompany.
Kompany and Fellaini are part of a vibrant Belgium national team, also including Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke and Thomas Vermaelen, tipped to shine at the 2014 World Cup.
“Kompany is a very good player,” Fellaini said. “That’s why he is the captain. He has done a great job. He won the league last year.
“He is difficult to play against. He is a strong player. A strong defender. He is strong mentally, quick, good in the air, good on the ball.
“He is one of the top five defenders in the Premier League and he has a lot of quality.
“But Everton is a difficult team to play against. We are at a stage now where we were a little bit disappointed to draw against Arsenal.
“My ambition this season is to finish in the top four with Everton. Everybody is working hard for this.
“I don’t know the future but Everton gave me the chance to play in the Premier League. They gave me a lot of confidence. I am happy here.”
Fellaini, Everton’s £15million record signing, admitted that he found it hard to adjust to life in England when he arrived as a raw 20-year-old.
But he has matured on and off the pitch and has become one of the most admired players in the Premier League.
“Life was difficult when I arrived,” he said. “I was young. My family was in Belgium. I lived here alone. My language was bad. Now it is also bad.
“But Everton helped me a lot. There are some good guys here. And now I live in Cheshire. It’s quiet.
“I’m a guy who stays at home and rests, because the Premier League is hard. I sit at home and watch Sky Sports.
“The money is not difficult for me to cope with. When I was young, I was a normal guy with a normal life. Now I’m the same.
“I play in the Premier League, but I’m just a guy who likes football and my family.
“My family look after me all the time. My feet are on the ground. I have some friends that I know are my friends.”
And what about his trademark hair? How much time does he take styling it? Does he have a dedicated hairdresser like many star players?
A normal guy, remember.
“I wash it sometimes,” he said. “But that’s it.”
Leon Osman has a compelling reason not to become a one-cap wonder... and it stares back at him every day.
Pride of place in the Everton midfielder’s home isnow given to a photo of him making his England debut a fortnight ago.
And the face that beams proudly out from the picture sports an outlandish moustache that Osman grew in support of the Movember charity.
At 31, Osman was well aware his international bow could easily be his first and last, and that led to a difficult decision about whether to shave to avoid any embarrassing images of his magical moment.
Ultimately, he chose to honour his commitment to the men’s health charity, but said: “I debated whether I should get rid of the moustache. But it’s for charity and I’m not vain enough to care about things like that.
“If it is my only experience with England, then so be it. But hopefully I will get more – and I’d have the second photo without the moustache, that’s for sure!”
Despite the 4-2 defeat to Sweden, the Everton player was one of the major plusses for boss Roy Hodgson, who quickly confirmed Osman was already in consideration for a second cap.
“I think the England cap has probably given me extra belief, though I certainly believed in myself before that,” Osman said.
“But to go into the game and feel reasonably comfortable in those surroundings, was great. It’s a cliche but if you want more of it, you have to earn it and keep on playing the way you are.”
Osman will get an immediate examination of his international credentials this afternoon, when he visits the Etihad to face Manchester City’s England midfielders Gareth Barry and James Milner.
If he is to hold down a regular place in Hodgon’s squad, then he must outperform the likes of the classy pair who will line up opposite him.
“When it comes to the next England squad, if I’m not playing well it doesn’t matter how much the England manager is considering me,” Osman added.
“But if we go up there and my role is one where I have to sacrifice myself for the team, then I will do that. It’s not about me showcasing myself to the detriment of the team, it’s about Everton and us performing as a unit.”
FOR a brief moment, Leon Osman’s belated elevation into the England squad left him mulling over a dilemma.
Not the sort of quandary Wilfried Zaha or Raheem Sterling faced, aware that their first senior call-ups for last month’s game with Sweden would represent another step away from ever representing the countries of their birth on the international stage.
Osman’s predicament was over whether to cut ties with something else.
“It was debated – by me – whether I should get rid of the moustache or not,” said the Everton midfielder, one of a number of Premier League players who have taken part in the Movember appeal to raise awareness over prostate cancer.
“But we’re doing it for charity and I’m not vain enough to care about things like that. If it is my only experience with England then so be it.
“But hopefully I will be able to get more – and I’d have the second one without!”
Osman is likely to be clean shaven today when Everton face champions Manchester City at The Etihad, a fixture manager David Moyes labelled last year as akin to “going into a gunfight armed with a knife”.
Everton’s attacking armoury has expanded since then, but if future England honours are to arrive for Osman then he knows that putting on a show on occasions such as this will stand him in good stead.
“Playing for England has probably boosted my confidence,” he said. “I certainly believed in myself before I went there, but to go into the game and enjoy it as I did, feeling reasonably comfortable in those surroundings, was great.
“What the manager said afterwards was nice and it gives you a boost. But at the same time if I’m not playing well when the time comes to pick the next squad, it doesn’t matter if he has been considering me or not. Your form still has to be up there if you’re going to be knocking on the door again.
“It’s a cliche but if you want more of it, you have to earn it and keep on playing the way you are. We have to keep Everton playing the way we are, but get the results as well.
“I’m pretty certain these are the games that stick in people’s thoughts. They are games when you probably have to show a bit more. But if we go up there on Saturday and my role is one where I have to sacrifice myself for the team, then I will do that as well.
“I play for Everton and it’s not about me going out and showcasing myself to the detriment of the team, it’s about Everton and us performing as a unit.”
Osman is playing a deeper midfield role at club level than the one where he was deployed in Stockholm when he earned praise from coach Roy Hodgson for the way in which he helped knit the play together for England before the glut of late substitutions allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to steal the spotlight.
The responsibility will be greater on the home-grown star this afternoon, pitched as he will be into a direct battle with 6ft4in Yaya Toure. Osman stands at 5ft7in, but the size of his talent will not be under-estimated.
Likewise Everton, whose early-season momentum might have slowed due to six draws in their last eight matches but who have a habit of making life difficult for Roberto Mancini.
They showed character in recovering from conceding against Arsenal after 49 seconds in midweek and Osman said: “Giving a team like Arsenal a head start isn’t great, but we showed great character.
“We didn’t bury ourselves, we took the ball, we played it, knocked a couple of direct ones and in the end we got our reward. We could have gone on and won it as well.
“It doesn’t feel as if things are slipping away because we all believe we will get our reward in the end. There’s certainly no downheartedness in the dressing room. We are ruing missed opportunities, but it’s not a devastating time for us.
“We have proved we shouldn’t fear anyone. We feel we are a good side.
“It’s a time to turn draws into wins. We will hit a purple patch and we will be up there when we do.”