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Sunday 20 April K.O. 16:10

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What The Papers Say - 10 March

Round-up of the day's paper talk.

What The Papers Say - 10 March

The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.

Sunday Telegraph

 

Three goals in three extraordinary first-half minutes saw Wigan through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in the club's history.

But while there was joy unconfined for their fans and particularly their chairman, Dave Whelan, who shed tears in midweek as he recalled his leg break while playing for Blackburn in the 1960 Cup final, Evertonwere left stunned by a display and a result which puts the future of manager David Moyes firmly in the spotlight.

Whether this abject performance increases or decreases the likelihood of Moyes's departure at the end of what will be an 11th trophyless season is unclear, but this result was an absolute shocker.

The argument will be that Everton failed to show up with Wembley on the horizon, but Wigan deserve huge praise for stopping the hosts in their quest.

"I think we deserve a bit of credit," the Wigan manager Roberto Martínez agreed. "There was a lot of expectation here and the fans behind the team, but we handled it well. We stopped Everton and their free-flowing football and I think we deserve credit for that.

"You get used to that at Wigan. If you lose it was your fault. If we win, the others are poor. It would be very unfair to say Everton had a bad day. I think it is more a very good performance from us."
Moyes refused to blame any individuals for his side's inept display, despite star men like Marouane Fellaini failing to perform. He was hardly alone in that.

"We work together as a team," claimed Moyes. "We don't [point the] finger [at] anybody, I might do in the dressing room but I won't do it publicly.

"We know who did not do well enough today but it was the team and me who did not do a good enough job today and Wigan deserve credit.

"We have not had many of those days this season - probably not since January last year - but today was just one of those days where it did not go well for us at all. We didn't perform."

Martínez had us all believe that he would, as he had done in previous rounds, rest the majority of his regular first-team players and Everton would have an easy day, but whether it was being tantalisingly close to a trip to Wembley or the fact that more illustrious opposition stood in their way, the Spaniard made just four changes.

And the Premier League strugglers got off to a promising start as they seemed unperturbed by the fact they had won just once at Goodison Park.

Shaun Maloney beat Everton keeper Jan Mucha, who was deputising for the injured Tim Howard, but the upright saved the hosts before Arouna Kone headed over.

Nobody could have really expected what happened next; James McCarthy forced Mucha to palm wide on the half-hour mark and from the resulting corner, swung in by Jordi Gómez, Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa rose to nod in.

Just a minute later, a sloppy pass from veteran Phil Neville was pounced upon by boyhood Evertonian and former season-ticket holder Callum McManaman who raced clear before lifting the ball expertly over Mucha and into the net.

Wigan fans were going wild as they sang about Wembley and just two minutes later they were a step closer when Kone fed a low pass to Gómez and he hit a well placed effort into the bottom corner.

The television cameras panned to club chairman Whelan who must have been close to tears again. "I've got unfinished business at Wembley - I had a dream that we would beat Everton and draw Blackburn in the semi-final," said Whelan after the game, and who will find out if that premonition will come through after Sunday's draw.

The Everton fans displayed very different emotions - they booed loudly as their chances of a first trophy since 1995 slipped away.

Despite Everton's pressure and possession in the second half, they could not unlock a Latics defence which stood relatively solid as Leighton Baines fired a free-kick straight at Joel Robles, who surprisingly replaced Ali Al Habsi in Wigan's starting line-up.

Everton manager Moyes tried to salvage something from what could be his final season with the Toffees by bringing on Darron Gibson for Fellaini - a move met by boos - and Ross Barkley for Kevin Mirallas who had earlier had a goal chalked off for offside but it was all in vain.

The Scot is refusing to discuss a new contract with the club's hierarchy until he sees how the remainder of this season pans out and this display could force him to question whether this is as far as he can bring this group under their current financial restraints.

It is Wigan who go on to their first Wembley FA Cup semi-final but before then they must refocus on avoiding relegation from the Premier League, with Martínez saying they have "10 Cup finals" remaining to do so.

"If he wins the FA Cup, and we stay in the Premier League he is definitely getting a pay rise," said Whelan. It would be entirely deserved for a man who has turned down many a chance to leave in the past.

The Independent on Sunday
Four minutes before the interval yesterday the visiting supporters were greeting every Wigan touch with an olé and chanting - with a certain disbelief, no doubt - "We want four". They had three already, scored within the space of three minutes, and held on to that lead comfortably to reach the first FA Cup semi-final in their 81-year history.

It was deserved reward for a composed and tactically mature performance that made a nonsense of the 21-point gap between the teams in the Premier League. The foundations were a tight back three who barely allowed anything through to their reserve goalkeeper, the Spaniard Joel Robles, and two enterprising wing-backs. Wigan were particularly effective down the left through Jean Beausejour and Shaun Maloney, combining to give Seamus Coleman and Phil Neville a harrowing time.
For the home team, finalists and beaten semi-finalists in the past four years, it was a dreadful day after having smelled Wembley when they were favoured with a home draw for the first time this season.

After sending on Victor Anichebe as a second striker at half-time in place of their captain, Neville, whose error cost the second goal, they responded only briefly and received even more boos at full-time than they had at the interval.

It summed up the prevailing frustration that an invitation to show "appreciation" for Marouane Fellaini when he was susbstituted after 66 minutes was met with widespread abuse. The Belgian stomped off down the tunnel, just one of many underperformers on a proud club's biggest day of the season.

The country's third longest-serving manager, David Moyes, about to celebrate 11 years at Everton without having signed any contract beyond this summer, must have been left wondering how much more he can achieve without moving on.

Naturally he was not looking that far ahead after the game, saying only: "Wigan played well on the day and we didn't. They were the better team. We've not had many of those days this season. I feel disappointed for everybody as we just never really got going."

For Wigan, pride and satisfaction will be tempered only by concern that a Wembley semi-final in the middle of next month does not distract from the fundamental business of staying in the Premier League. Because relegation rivals Reading and Aston Villa played each other yesterday, they were always going to drop back into the bottom three; Roberto Martinez's reaction was to insist that it will merely make all his players even keener to take part in what he called the "10 cup finals" remaining - which may yet prove good practice for the real one.

"For us to go to Wembley is a historic moment," he said, adding his delight for the club chairman, Dave Whelan, who broke his leg in the 1960 final as his Blackburn Rovers side lost 3-0 to Wolves.

Even Whelan, who has pumped millions into helping the club from the Third Division to eight years at the highest level, could hardly have expected to win here by the same score, though he did reveal: "I had a dream this week that we would beat Everton and meet Blackburn in the semi-final at Wembley.

That would fulfil my dreams and if we can win the Cup, it is something that Wigan cannot even contemplate." He even promised Martinez a rise, as long as Wigan stay up and reach the final.

Everyone in the visiting ranks must have sensed from early on here that they were on to something good at a ground where they had only previously won once, eight years ago. Ten minutes in, the excellent Maloney cut in from the left and drove a shot against the far post with Jan Mucha, standing in for the injured Tim Howard, a spectator. Aruna Kone headed a good chance over the bar, Mucha pushed James McCarthy's 25-yarder round the post and from the resulting corner the dam burst.

First Maynor Figueroa took advantage of poor marking to head in; in the next minute Neville's misplaced pass in the vague direction of Sylvain Distin was picked up by Callum McManaman, a lifelong Evertonian, who ran on to chip neatly across Mucha; and with the disbelief now being shared by everyone in the ground, Kone supplied Gomez for another delightful finish, curled just inside a post.

The home side really needed to retrieve a goal before half-time but were never close, and after quickly falling away following a brief spell of pressure at the start of the second half they lost the crowd completely. Robles, once the understudy to David de Gea at Atletico Madrid, remained untroubled until making a fine save from Leon Osman in added time, Coleman heading the rebound weakly wide to sum up Everton's wretched day. "It was a complete performance and a special day for the fans of Wigan Athletic," Martinez said. Nobody, friend or foe, seemed inclined to disagree.

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