Tag Archives: dominic

Liverpool having better season than last year – Glen Johnson

No trophies and seventh in the league… but Johnson insists Liverpool have improved

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

Glen Johnson insists Liverpool's season has been 'clearly better' than the last campaign which ended with them winning a trophy and qualifying for Europe.

Liverpool, whose hopes of top six finish were dented by a 0-0 draw with West Ham, never threatened to repeat their exploits of last year in knockout football when they reached both domestic cup finals, winning the League Cup against Cardiff.

Bar a huge turn of events, it is almost certain they will miss out on a place in the Europa League next year, too, as they are running out of games to overhaul Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

Luis Suarez

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard

Woe: Liverpool failed to break down a dogged West Ham defence at Anfield last weekend

Johnson, though, is adamant that Liverpool – who are set to surpass the points tally of 52 they accrued 12 months ago – have made far greater progress under Brendan Rodgers than the Barclays Premier League table would suggest.

'I wouldn't say it (has been) so close but so far,' said the England right-back. 'It is clearly a better season than last season. Brendan is looking to improve the squad and we have got a better squad than we did have. He will look to improve again in the summer.

'If we can nick the goals we need from games (like against West Ham), we will be right in amongst it (next season).'

When asked why he felt it was a 'clearly better season', Johnson replied: 'It's a few things. You look at the squad, the feeling that there is around the place, the football that we are playing – 8 times out of 10, we have been battering teams.

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

'That wasn't the case last season. We won a trophy last season and, of course, that was fantastic. Everyone wants to win. That's what we are in the game for. But in terms of getting Liverpool back where they belong, we want to be back in the top four.'

Johnson, who has been one of Liverpool's most consistent performers under Rodgers, believes it is vital for the club's critics to look at this season in isolation, as he is adamant there will be significant improvement when things are fully settled.

'Brendan was brought in to rebuild the squad and put Liverpool back into the places that it should be (as a club),' said Johnson. 'He wants to put us back in the top four but he wasn't asked to do that in his first season. This season has been a step closer to that.

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

'Everyone – players, staff, fans – would love us to be back in the top four but if we improve on last season then it is a step in the right direction. We are still pretty close to the top four. If we can start nicking games like West Ham, we are going to be right in amongst it.'

Meanwhile, Liverpool target Toby Alderweirled has stated that he would prefer a move to Anfield this summer. The Belgian defender is expected to leave Ajax and has been courted by a number of English clubs, including Newcastle and Everton.

'I do not want to play for an English club in mid-table,' said Alderweirled. 'Unlike Newcastle, Liverpool meets my criteria.'

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Martin Skrtel set to depart Liverpool after fall out with Brendan Rodgers

Skrtel looks set for Anfield departure after breakdown in relations with Rodgers

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

14:53 GMT, 25 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:05 GMT, 26 February 2013

Martin Skrtel has paved the way for leaving Liverpool this summer after hinting at problems in his relationship with Brendan Rodgers.

The Liverpool defender has not started a Barclays Premier League game since being dropped following the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United on January 13 and was criticised by Rodgers after an underwhelming performance against Oldham in the FA Cup.

Skrtel is currently sidelined with a knee injury but, even if he was fit, the Slovakia international does not believe he would be in Rodgers’ plans and says his situation will need to be looked at in the summer if he remains out of the side.

Tough times: Martin Skrtel has found his playing time limited at Liverpool

Tough times: Martin Skrtel has found his playing time limited at Liverpool

‘We have (spoken) but it is not
ideal,’ Skrtel told Denik Sport, when asked if he had received an
explanation for being out of the team. ‘He (Rodgers) told me something
on this, gave me some explanation, but it’s hard to tell if it was the
true reason he gave me.

‘I don’t think it was and think there
is something else behind it. Anyway, I’m not the type of player who
would be chasing the coach and be in his office all the time, asking for
explanations why I’m not playing. I have never done this, I’m not doing
it now and I never will be.

‘If the coach wants to tell me
something, he will summon me. The coach has his ideas about the line-up
and the question is if I would be in it if I was fit. I would say it’s
likelier I wouldn’t.’

Fall out: Skrtel is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer after being criticised by manager Brendan Rodgers (below)

Fall out: Skrtel is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer after being criticised by manager Brendan Rodgers (below)

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Liverpool are set to be in the market
for at least two central defenders this summer – Rodgers watched
Feyenoord’s Stefan De Vrij on Sunday – given that Jamie Carragher is
retiring and it is likely that Sebastian Coates will be also be allowed
to leave in order to get first team football.

But Skrtel, who only signed a new
contract last summer, could also go and he has been linked with Anzhi
Machachkala and his old Zenit St Petersburg. He has refused to quell the
idea he will move on.

‘For three years at Liverpool I was
playing in almost every match and even in the national team I have
played a lot of games,’ said Skrtel. ‘I have had various thoughts but
certainly I’m not going to make any hot-blooded decision.’

End of an era: Jamie Carragher (right) will retire at the end of the season

End of an era: Jamie Carragher (right) will retire at the end of the season

David Moyes to discuss Everton future at end of season

Moyes puts Everton contract talks on hold to open the door to Chelsea job

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

11:57 GMT, 15 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:54 GMT, 15 February 2013

David Moyes has pushed his contract talks back to prevent anything distracting Everton’s bid to qualify for Europe.

The Everton manager has four months left on his current deal and had
indicated he would discuss his future with chairman Bill Kenwright once
the January transfer window had closed, but those talks have been
delayed until the end of the season.

On ice: David Moyes will wait until the end of the season before discussing his future at Everton

On ice: David Moyes will wait until the end of the season before discussing his future at Everton

Moyes, who earlier this season hinted of his desire to one day test
himself as a coach in Europe, has made it clear all along that decisions
on whether he extends his 11-year tenure at Goodison Park will not be
based on personal reward.

He wants to see whether Everton can keep progressing as a club by returning to Europe for the first time since 2009 and his latest comments are sure to alert Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

‘I’ve had a chat with Bill but my
main reason (for delaying) is I want to see how the team do,’ said
Moyes. ‘I want to see if we’ve got a realistic chance of getting in
Europe, or if we can get to a cup final. I want to see how well we
progress and what we do. I think that’s fair for the club as well.

‘I’m straight with Bill and I tell
him my thoughts. I want it to be purely football now until the end of
the season. I don’t want anything to get in the way and I would hate to
think anything to do with me would. So because of that I’m saying I’ll
be looking to see it in the summer.

Bouncing back: Robin van Persie (right) scored Manchester United's second against Everton

Bouncing back: Robin van Persie (right) scored Manchester United's second against Everton

Powerless: Everton's star man Marouane Fellaini could not prevent the Toffees losing 2-0

Powerless: Everton's star man Marouane Fellaini could not prevent the Toffees losing 2-0

‘I want to try and get Everton back into Europe. If I can get into a final, I’ll do that too.

‘But I don’t think I need anything
else at the moment to get in the way. The work (here) continues as I
have to make sure what I’m doing is for the future. We’re always looking
at next year and moving on.’

Everton are hot favourites to reach
the quarter-finals but Moyes is no stranger to being the victim of a
giantkilling – one of his most uncomfortable days at Goodison Park was
when Oldham won a third round tie in 2008 – and he is leaving no stone
unturned in his preparations for the trip to Boundary Park.

Moyes said: 'We know what they can do
got. They got a great result against Liverpool in the last round. We
have been knocked by Shrewsbury and Oldham in the past and we don't want
it to happen again.

'They have got Tony Philliskirk and Paul Gerrard
looking after things but I'm sure Oldham will have roughly the same
players that beat Liverpool.

'I think qualifying for the Champions
League would have the bigger impact because of the financial rewards.
If you can get into group stages, look at what has happened to Celtic in
the last six months.

'Obviously we want to win every
competition we enter but qualifying for the Champions League would
change things more for us than winning the FA Cup.'

Eyes on the prize: Moyes will hope to navigate past Oldham's Matt Smith (left) and caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk, pictured with the Budweiser FA Cup

Eyes on the prize: Moyes will hope to navigate past Oldham's Matt Smith (left) and caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk, pictured with the Budweiser FA Cup

Everton will come up against Jose
Baxter, who left the club last summer. He made history at Goodison when
becoming the youngest player – at 16years and 191 days – to represent
the club in August 2008.

'I'm delighted for Jose,' said Moyes.

'We offered him a contract, gave him
his debut at 16. It's hard for them at that age, as they can get to 19
and 20 and people are wondering where they have gone.

'But he is doing well. I am glad. It was a brave decision to leave but hopefully he will see it as the right move.'

Delighted: Moyes said he was glad to see former Everton man Jose Baxter thriving at Oldham

Delighted: Moyes said he was glad to see former Everton man Jose Baxter thriving at Oldham

Hillsborough disaster: Attorney General applies to have original inquest verdicts quashed

One step closer! Attorney General calls for Hillsborough inquest verdicts to be quashed

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UPDATED:

18:39 GMT, 10 December 2012

A formal application to quash the verdicts of the original Hillsborough inquests has been made by the Government's top lawyer.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said there was a 'good' case for setting aside the accidental death verdicts and holding new hearings into the deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 football stadium disaster.

The move comes after a damning report into the tragedy revealed a cover-up which attempted to shift the blame on to the victims.

Tragedy: There were 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster

Tragedy: There were 96 Liverpool fans killed in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster

Mr Grieve will appear in person at the High Court to argue that new evidence means there should be fresh inquests.

He said: 'I believe that the case for the High Court to quash the original inquests is a good one.

'My application has now been lodged with the Court. It is my intention to appear to argue the case at the hearing that will take place in the High Court.'

If the court quashes the original inquests and orders fresh inquests to be heard, its powers are limited to referring the cases back to the district in which they were originally heard.

In 95 of the cases this means the cases must be sent back to Sheffield or Doncaster.

It is understood that the Attorney General will suggest that the court should return the cases to Doncaster.

The families had made it clear they wished for the new inquests to be held in Liverpool but a spokesman for the Attorney General's office said the location will be 'a matter for the coronial process'.

Application: Attorney General Dominic Grieve

Application: Attorney General Dominic Grieve

Ninety six Liverpool supporters died in the crush at Sheffield Wednesday's stadium on April 15, 1989, where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

Anne Williams, whose son Kevin died in the disaster, wrote on Twitter: 'Just received e mail the Attorney General is sending kevins case to the divisional courts seeking a new inquest his death.'

More than 105,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for a fresh inquest into Kevin Williams' death to be held swiftly as his mother is suffering from cancer.

Mrs Williams, 60, who has made four submissions to overturn the verdict of her son's inquest to different Attorney Generals over the years, said this is what she had been waiting 23 years for.

She said: 'Looking at it (the email) now, I can't believe it. This is my fourth submission to Attorney Generals over the years and they have always come back 'not in the interests of justice'.'

Mrs Williams said she was now 'one step closer' to knowing the truth about what happened to her son on that day.

Chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, died at Hillsborough, said: 'We have waited over 20 years for these verdicts to be overturned and I'm sure all the families will be delighted to hear that these steps are being taken.

Determination: The families of the 96 victims have campaigned for justice for 23 years

Determination: The families of the 96 victims have campaigned for justice for 23 years

'It is a great step towards getting the justice we have fought for.'

Last week new laws giving extra powers to the police watchdog investigating the Hillsborough disaster and cover-up were rushed through the Commons.

Policing minister Damian Green said the changes were essential to ensure the 'double injustice' suffered by the victims of the disaster, as uncovered by the Hillsborough Independent Panel report published earlier this year, could be remedied.

The Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill had cross-party support and cleared the Commons in under four hours, receiving its second and third readings without a vote.

The actions of up to 2,400 serving or retired officers could be considered by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation – the watchdog's biggest ever investigation.

The new rules, which still have to be approved by the House of Lords, would enable the IPCC to compel serving officers or staff on other police bodies to attend an interview.

Manchester Derby: Sportsmail asks fans of City and United their predictions

A city divided: As Manchester prepares for the derby, Sportsmail asks fans of both clubs their best (and worst) derby memories

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UPDATED:

13:53 GMT, 6 December 2012

As Manchester gears up to host another pulsating derby on Sunday, Sportsmail decided to canvas opinion in the divided city ahead of the big game.

We talked to fans of both clubs as they prepare to bite their nails when Manchester City welcome bitter rivals United at the Etihad.

In the blue corner are life-long City fan Liam Heaney and Steve Walton, who’s had a season ticket at the club since 1990.

Fearsome: Robin van Persie is likely to lead Manchester United's line

Fearsome: Robin van Persie is likely to lead Manchester United's line

Manchester United fans Alex Bright and season ticket holder Dominic Hovington are holding firm in the red corner.

The fans tell us their favourite derby moments, who they fear the most from the other side of town, and offer their predictions for what promises to be another thriller.

Who do you fear most from the other team

Walton: It’s got to be Robin van Persie. He’s United’s top scorer and he hasn’t picked up that injury we all hoped he would!

Heaney: Wayne Rooney. Van Persie relies on other players – Rooney can smash a goal from absolutely nowhere.

Bright: Carlos Tevez. (As a former United player) it means much more when he scores against us.

Hovington: Who to pick… Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Mario Balotelli… It has to be Yaya (Toure) though; he's not hit the heights of last season – when he was absolutely unplayable – but given our weakness in midfield he could wreak havoc.

Squaring up: Carlos Tevez (left) and Rafael

Squaring up: Carlos Tevez (left) and Rafael

Antagonistic: City commissioned a poster which read 'Welcome to Manchester' after signing Tevez from their rivals

Antagonistic: City commissioned a poster which read 'Welcome to Manchester' after signing Tevez from their rivals

Who’s most likely to clinch it for your lot

Walton: Sergio [Aguero]. But Carlos Tevez will be really up for it too.

Heaney: Carlos Tevez. It obviously means a lot.

Bright: Robin van Persie. He's our top goalscorer. He hit the winner for us last week and seems to be our main goal threat this season.

Hovington: Has to be Van Persie. 24million looks like a bargain now with the amount of times he's bailed us out already.

Wheeling away: Sergio Aguero will look to be in the goals on Saturday

Wheeling away: Sergio Aguero will look to be in the goals on Saturday

Remember this Wayne Rooney celebrates in style after netting a wonderful goal against City in 2010/11

Remember this Wayne Rooney celebrates in style after netting a wonderful goal against City in 2010/11

Your favourite Manchester derby moment

Walton: It has to be the final derby at Maine Road. City won 3-1. Shaun Goater scored twice and Nicolas Anelka got one. Either that or Yaya scoring in the semi-final of the FA Cup. That was effectively our cup final.

Heaney: Not the 6-1 last season! It was the two wins we got in the 50th anniversary of the Munich disaster. Winning at Old Trafford was unheard of before that.

Bright: Michael Owen’s last-minute winner when we beat City 4-3. Amazing. It was 3-3, a really tense game which ran into the last couple of minutes. People thought it would end that way, but then [Ryan] Giggs passed to Owen and he stuck it in. Everyone went crazy!

Hovington: I’ve got two obvious ones. Wayne Rooney’s impersonation of Escape to Victory with that bicycle kick was unbelievable. The other is when my favourite ever Man United player (Paul Scholes) popped up with a Fergie time winning header at the Etihad in 2010… and, of course, the subsequent kiss with Gary Neville. A modern day 'gone with the wind' with Neville as Rhett Butler.

What a goal: Wayne Rooney scored a magnificent bicycle kick to see off City at Old Trafford

What a goal: Wayne Rooney scored a magnificent bicycle kick to see off City at Old Trafford

A tender moment: Gary Neville planted a kiss on Paul Scholes after he headed home late in the game at the Etihad

A tender moment: Gary Neville planted a kiss on Paul Scholes after he headed home late in the game at the Etihad

WORST Manchester derby memory

Walton: In the 2009/10 season we played United four times and I went to all four games. When we lost 4-3 I was in a box surrounded by United fans at Old Trafford when Michael Owen scored well into Fergie time. It's never as bad when you're sat with City fans.

Heaney: Michael Owen’s goal. It was a last minute winner away at Old Trafford by a player who had shown no signs of playing anywhere near his old ability. Yet the United fans claimed he was the best player in the world afterwards.

Bright: This is an easy one. The 6-1. We were at Old Trafford against a team who had been inferior to us for years. They had suddenly bought all these players, but regardless of their quality, we never though they could beat us like that. No one did.

Hovington: As you would expect, the 6-1. Although the return fixture was equally bad. A horrific, listless performance from us and some terrible defending from a corner that allowed 'Mr City' [Vincent Kompany] to win it with a header.

Why always him Mario Balotelli scored two goals when City beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford last season

Why always him Mario Balotelli scored two goals when City beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford last season

Ecstasy or agony Michael Owen popped up deep into stoppage time to hand United a 4-3 win in 2009

Ecstasy or agony Michael Owen popped up deep into stoppage time to hand United a 4-3 win in 2009

Ecstasy or agony Michael Owen popped up deep into stoppage time to hand United a 4-3 win in 2009

Most likely to see red

Walton: For City, Balotelli, if he plays. For United, Scholes, if he plays. Other than those two it would be a defender like Kompany last season.

Heaney: Nobody stands out really. Probably a City centre back for a rash last-man challenge. Joleon Lescott

Bright: Scholes, if he gets on.

Hovington: Mario Balotelli Paul Scholes Vincent
Kompany Wayne Rooney Personally I think Jonny Evans has got away with a
couple already this season and third time could be a charm. As shown
last season (when Evans was red-carded against City at Old Trafford)
that could be a catalyst for disaster.

Will Manchester City retain the Premier League title this season

Walton: Now that we are out of Europe, yes. There aren't any distraction now. We could even win the double.

Heaney: Yes.

Bright: No. We’ll get it back.

Hovington: No. I have to say it, but I also believe it. Their squad isn't as strong as last season both in player performance and in personnel. Javi Garcia, Maicon and Scott Sinclair are not up to scratch. Plus, Fergie's wily enough to learn from last seasons complacency; we'll hit our form after Christmas and go from there.

Can you hold onto it City and United fans were split on whether the Premier League trophy will stay in the blue side of Manchester

Can you hold onto it City and United fans were split on whether the Premier League trophy will stay in the blue side of Manchester

Greatest all-time composite Manchester XI

Walton:
Joe Hart; Gary Neville, Duncan Edwards, Vincent Kompany, Dennis Irwin;
David Silva, Bobby Charlton, Colin Bell, David Beckham; Dennis Law,
George Best (I wanted to have Shaun Goater, but I don’t think that would
be fair…)

Heaney:
Peter Schmeichel; Nemanja Vidic, Gary Pallister, Vincent Kompany; Paul
Lake, Georgi Kinkladze, Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee, Cristiano Ronaldo;
Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney

Bright:
Peter Schmeichel; Gary Neville, Gary Pallister, Jaap Stam, Dennis
Irwin; Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs; Eric
Cantona, Wayne Rooney (I wanted someone like David Silva or Yaya Toure
in there, but they haven’t been there long enough!)

Hovington: Peter Schmeichel; Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, Jaap Stam, Dennis Irwin, Cristiano Ronaldo, Yaya Toure, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs; Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy

A great: Most fans, of City and United, put Eric Cantona in their all-time Manchester XI

A great: Most fans, of City and United, put Eric Cantona in their all-time Manchester XI

Cult hero: Manchester City's fan favourite Georgi Kinkladze

Cult hero: Manchester City's fan favourite Georgi Kinkladze

Another era: United fan Alex Bright picked David Beckham (left), Roy Keane (centre) and Jaap Stam (right) in his all-time XI

Another era: United fan Alex Bright picked David Beckham (left), Roy Keane (centre) and Jaap Stam (right) in his all-time XI

And finally… your prediction for Sunday's game

Walton: 2-1 City.

Heaney: 2-1 City.

Bright: 2-2.

Hovington: I'm going for an optimistic 3-2 or 4-3 to United with RVP probably coming to the rescue again.

Leon Osman proved he was international class for England – Mersey Beat

After years in the shadows, Osman finally emerged to prove his international class

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UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 16 November 2012

It was a game he will remember forever more. A capacity crowd, a sparkling new stadium and a goal fit to grace any occasion.

But while the world and his wife were left speaking about Zlatan Ibrahimovic following the staggering strike on Wednesday evening, Leon Osman was able to come away from England’s contest with Sweden feeling equally content.

Of course, the Everton midfielder’s efforts were not as spectacular, or as game-changing, as the enigmatic Ibrahimovic but, in his own, understated way, Osman proved a point in Stockholm’s twinkling new Friends Arena.

Stepping up: Leon Osman eased into the England team against Sweden

Stepping up: Leon Osman eased into the England team against Sweden

More from Dominic King…

Mersey Beat: Rodgers must overcome the curse of Goodison Park
26/10/12

Mersey Beat: Once a Blue… once more a Blue Rooney's Everton career might not be over
19/10/12

Mersey Beat: Owen ready for another uncomfortable afternoon back at Liverpool
05/10/12

Mersey Beat: Everton have blown glorious opportunity to win silverware with Leeds defeat
28/09/12

Mersey Beat: The lure of the English Clasico
21/09/12

Mersey Beat: Legends like Rush, Fowler, Hunt, Liddell… but now there's no Liverpool No 9
07/09/12

Mersey Beat: Has the first major shift in power since 1937 happened on Merseyside
24/08/12

Mersey Beat: Rodgers can talk the talk… now he must deliver results at Liverpool
18/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Many had wondered why, at the age of 31, Roy Hodgson had called Osman into his squad. This is a transitional period for the national team and the emphasis is on blooding new, young players who will potentially be the mainstays for major tournaments in 2018 and 2020.

Good footballers, however, never go out of fashion, not matter how old they are. And, that, in a nutshell is precisely what Osman showed on Wednesday night. Dovetailing well with Steven Gerrard, Osman kept England’s engine room ticking over with his assured range of passing.

Those who have been watching him over the last two years will not have been surprised that he fitted in so neatly but to see him make a contribution to the best football England have played under Roy Hodgson was nonetheless so pleasing.

‘We were all genuinely made up when we heard that he had been picked,’ said Leighton Baines, Osman’s Everton colleague and a man whose performances mean that Ashley Cole has genuine competition for his left-back spot.

‘The manager (David Moyes) had pulled me and Jags (Phil Jagielka) before he got everyone together to say he’d heard there was a chance Ossie had been called up but he didn’t want to say too much in case it never worked out.

‘But when he called us around to tell us, everyone was over the moon for him. It’s brilliant and fully deserved. He has had to wait a long time for this and some people will be wondering why he has been called up but he is a footballer’s footballer.

Fitting right in: Osman did not look out of place on England duty

Fitting right in: Osman did not look out of place on England duty

‘He’s so skilful and his passing is brilliant. He has got goals in him too. He has definitely got the talent to stay in the squad and he is someone who won’t look out of place. He doesn’t get lots of headlines but footballers and people within the game appreciate the role he plays and the things he does.’

That may be true but there is a feeling that Osman would have made his England debut long before Wednesday night, had he played for a more 'fashionable' club. This is not being detrimental to Everton. Far from it.

Yet there are players who have played for southern based sides in recent years that have lacked Osman’s technical and tactical proficiencies. Put it another way, had he spent his career at Tottenham, say, he would not be one of England’s oldest debutants.

Stuck at the Toffees: Everton have enjoyed Osman's talents for years

Stuck at the Toffees: Everton have enjoyed Osman's talents for years

Encouragingly, though, there are signs from Roy Hodgson that Osman will not join the ranks of players such as Mark Walters, Kevin Richardson, Michael Ricketts and David Nugent, who wore Three Lions on their chest once but never again.

‘It’s very good for me to know that a player like Osman, someone I’ve thought a lot of for a number of years since coming back to English football, can be brought in relatively late in his career and do the job he did,’ mused Hodgson.

‘The next time I put a squad together I can’t make guarantees but one thing is for sure: I believed in him and gave him a chance and he took the chance. He’s certainly a name we will be discussing very seriously the next time we get together.’

And there, if Osman needed any, was the proof he could be comfortable being referred to as an international class footballer.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic overhead kick: An apology by Dominic King

An apology for Zlatan: Dominic King didn't get the hype surrounding the Swedish maverick. He does now…

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UPDATED:

10:35 GMT, 15 November 2012

The observation was made during England’s Euro 2012 showdown with Sweden in the now common form of 140 characters.

With the cameras being drawn frequently to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I asked on Twitter why was there such fuss about the hulking forward. Throughout his career, I’d never fully understood why he had been central to such headlines and copy.

More fuss was being made of Ibrahimovic than of Andres Iniesta, Barcelona’s midfield magician, who has won all there is to win in the game many times over, scored a winning goal in a World Cup final and spent his career at the one of the great clubs.

Believe the hype: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) has legions of fans... and now his critics know why

Believe the hype: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) has legions of fans… and now his critics know why

What Dominic King said about Zlatan…

Sportsmail's North West football reporter made the following observations about Ibrahimovic on Twitter during England's win over Sweden at Euro 2012 on June 15:

'This is probably another “speak too soon” moment but can anyone else see why Ibrahimovic has moved clubs for so much money in his career

'Remember seeing him at Anfield when he was at Juve. For 60 mins he looked bored, then popped up with a shot that nearly shattered the post.

'He's got talent – I'm not disputing – but, in my opinion, he's had more of fuss made of him than someone like Iniesta, who deserves more.

'I will qualify that by saying Iniesta has helped make Barca & Spain tick yet you rarely hear anything about him. As I said, just my opinion.'

This is not to say I didn’t think Ibrahimovic was a good player. Not at all. The first time I saw him play in the flesh was for Juventus in a Champions League quarter-final at Anfield in 2005, he nearly broke the Kop End goal frame in half with a thunderous, instinctive strike.

There was, however, something I didn’t quite ‘get’ about him and when he moved to Barcelona in 2009, I expressed the view to a Barclays Premier League manager. He agreed. We both felt Barcelona had erred, trading Samuel Eto’o for him.

So, watching him sulk and snarl in Kiev as England, I took to Twitter and observed that his career had been hyped up more than it deserved. Had I suggested Kate Middleton would lose a beauty competition to Grotbags, the reaction would have been more favourable.

Zlatan, clearly, has a lot of fans out there.

Of
course it is hard to argue when facts are presented such as him winning
league titles at every club he has played for, being the only man to
score in the Champions League for six different clubs and the transfer
fees he had commanded.

Until last night, however, I remained sceptical. Not any longer.

Ibrahimovic at Juventus

Ibrahimovic at Barcelona

As good as he thinks he is Ibra had his doubters while at Juventus (left) and Barcelona (right)

Yes, it really did go in: Zlatan's propeller-kick from over 25 yards stunned the football world

Yes, it really did go in: But Zlatan's propeller-kick from 25 yards stunned the football world and won new fans

Never mind the fact that England and Sweden played a friendly last night on a bobbly pitch and that two relatively inexperienced defenders were asked to chaperone him. Ibrahimovic was breathtaking; powerful, dominant and aggressive.

His gravity defying bicycle kick in injury time was scarcely believable and defined his performance but just as good was the nonchalant way he dispatched the first of his four goals. That was the hallmark of a striker playing at the top of his game.

So, Zlatan, it would appear I owe you an apology. The hype was right.

Divers like Luis Suarez are turning fans way from football, says David Moyes

Divers like Suarez are turning fans away from football, says Everton boss Moyes

|

UPDATED:

23:20 GMT, 26 October 2012

David Moyes has accused players like Luis Suarez of turning supporters away from English football and he demanded serial divers be punished with bans.

The Everton manager stoked the fires ahead of the 219th Merseyside derby, which will be refereed by Andre Marriner, by admitting he is 'worried' about Suarez, especially after last season when the Liverpool striker's dramatic reaction to a challenge led to Jack Rodwell being wrongly sent off.

Moyes, who has long held strong views about players who go down too easily, referred to that incident yesterday as 'a dive' and believes the culture of players cheating to gain an advantage will eventually mean football loses spectators.

Spoiling the game Moyes believes divers should be harshly punished

Spoiling the game Moyes believes divers should be harshly punished

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'I would (be concerned about Suarez) because I think he has got history,' said Moyes.

'But I am not the referee, I am not the one that (makes decisions). But I tell you what — it will turn the supporters away from football if they think players are conning their way to results.

'People like to see things done in the main correctly. If the ball hits a hand, of course you are going to claim for it. And you will take every decision you get. But when people are out to manufacture it, supporters in general will not like it.'

When Moyes was asked if his comments were directed at Suarez in particular, he replied: ‘It is generally. I think it is a discussion to be had. I don’t think supporters like the idea of players going down easily.

'Everybody who has played football and who is involved in it, you would hate to see that happening in the games you played. You would say “get up”. You just find it very hard to go along with but you have to give the referee the chance to referee the game the way he sees it.'

Moyes added: 'Players should stay on their feet. I have got a view that retrospective viewing of diving should be seen as more important than some of the technology they are talking about coming in. I think if you banned players, it wouldn’t take long before you cut (diving) out.'

Shocker: Suarez is starting to earn himself something of a reputation

Shocker: Suarez is starting to earn himself something of a reputation

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers launched an astonishing defence of Suarez following a 0-0 draw against Stoke earlier this month, claiming he is the victim of ‘wrong and unfair treatment’, and he reiterated that Liverpool have suffered at the hands of referees.

Moyes, who is similarly aggrieved about decisions that have gone against Everton, regularly reminds his squad about the code of conduct he expects them to follow on the pitch and will not tolerate them diving.

Rodgers said: 'I have seen it over the years – the real firecrackers of games, full of intensity and passion, which they should be because that is what derbies are about. But it is also important to stay calm.'

Outspoken: Moyes is preparing his side to face Liverpool on Sunday

Outspoken: Moyes is preparing his side to face Liverpool on Sunday

Michael Owen back at Liverpool – Mersey Beat

Owen ready for another uncomfortable afternoon
back at Liverpool

|

UPDATED:

15:16 GMT, 5 October 2012

They will give him a generous ovation on Sunday. As is usually the case when a former player’s name is read out, the Kop will clap, sing his old song and recognise the service he gave.

Given he appeared in a European final, played a crucial role in helping Liverpool win an FA Cup and lead the line with distinction, becoming a crowd favourite in the process, it is only right that the Kop will look to acknowledge Peter Crouch when sets foot on Anfield’s turf once more.

This way to Anfield: Michael Owen can expect a lukewarm reception

This way to Anfield: Michael Owen can expect a lukewarm reception

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What happens when Michael Owen does something similar, however, will be completely different.

He did all the things Crouch did for Liverpool and more but, for him, the best scenario for which he can hope is muted applause.

It is nothing new, of course. Owen has been back to play at Anfield on several occasions since he left for Real Madrid in 2004 for both Newcastle United and Manchester United – he even pulled on a Red shirt during Jamie Carragher’s testimonial in September 2010.

Each time he return, though, it sharpens the focus of what could and should have been but now never will be. Owen, remember, was one of the greatest goalscorers of his generation. In 2001, he won the FA Cup final almost single-handedly and was named European Footballer of the Year.

During one of the many transitional periods Liverpool have endured in the past two decades, Owen’s emergence was genuinely thrilling and whenever the club had a big game, he could be relied upon to come up with the goods.

With a tally of 158 goals in 297 appearances, Owen, by rights, should receive the warmest of welcomes whenever he comes back to the place that was once his home but now all he can expect is indifference and ambivalence.

Golden boy: Owen started his career at Liverpool and was once a hero

Golden boy: Owen started his career at Liverpool and was once a hero

Now this is not a sob story on Owen’s
behalf. Far from it. There are reasons – plenty of them valid – as to
why the Kop have lost their rapport with the former England
international and sympathy is not something he will ever get at Anfield.

Owen, after all, is accountable for the decisions he made.

For starters, there was the manner in which he left in 2004. Having indicated that he was ready to sign a new contract, he sat out Rafael Benitez’s first game against AK Graz in the Champions League and within days had signed for Madrid.

Then, when presented with the chance to re-sign for Liverpool 12 months later, he chose to join Newcastle instead at the last minute. When he headed back to Anfield that Christmas for a Premier League game, he was the subject of chants of, among others things, 'Where were you in Istanbul'

‘I could see the deflation in his eyes and recognised how hurt he was,’ Carragher wrote in his autobiography about the incident. ‘To see a player who had played his heart out for us on the end of a reception so untypical of those that former Anfield heroes usually get was depressing.

‘Over the years I’ve seen players who didn’t contribute half as much as Michael, and some who were only here for a season or two, be welcomed back as if they had played 500 games and won dozen of trophies. It made no sense.’

Of course, any hope that bridges would have been rebuilt were extinguished when Owen went to Manchester United in 2009 but, given he was without a club at that time, it was hardly an offer he could refuse, particularly as Liverpool showed no interest then to bring him back.

There was talk about Owen being drafted back to Liverpool as an emergency measure last month but it lacked substance. Brendan Rodgers has a vision in mind and it does not include signing a 32-year-old who has not started a Premier League game for two years and three days.

Tony Pulis, though, has an idea in mind for Owen and the Potteries are where he will see out his playing days. But what happens then

Will Owen ever return to Anfield and watch a game from the stands Will he be welcomed back, say, if a reunion takes place for the treble winners of 2001

To look at everything Owen achieved for Liverpool, those questions should not be asked. That they are tells you everything about a sad situation.

Everton to finish above Liverpool again? MERSEY BEAT

Has the first major shift in power since 1937 happened on Merseyside

|

UPDATED:

11:53 GMT, 24 August 2012

It was the year when George VI became king and Neville Chamberlain was elected Prime Minister; it was also the year Dame Shirley Bassey was born and 999 was introduced ats the emergency telephone number.

1937 was a significant year in British history and it was also a notable one in the narrative of Merseyside football – it was the last time Everton finished ahead of Liverpool in the top flight league table for two consecutive seasons.

That is an extraordinary statistic, particularly when you consider some of the fabulous sides from Everton's past, such as the one that contained the Holy Trinity of Ball, Kendall and Harvey in the 1960s, and the mid-1980s vintage that won two league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup Winners Cup.

Been a while: Everton last finished above Liverpool in successive top flight seasons in 1936 (Dixie Dean, pictured) and 1937

Been a while: Everton last finished above Liverpool in successive top flight seasons in 1936 (Dixie Dean, pictured) and 1937

But, as strange though it may be, not since Everton’s respective finishes of 16th (1936) and 17th (1937) under Theo Kelly bettered Liverpool’s placing of 17th and 18th has Blue been the successively dominant colour on Merseyside.

Which begs the question: is that sequence about to end

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After Liverpool spent 100million last
summer, Everton boss David Moyes harboured no expectations that his side
would outperform their neighbours over 38 matches but, despite losing
both derby games and the FA Cup semi-final, that is precisely what they
did.

Liverpool’s implosion in the second half of the campaign coincided with Everton finding their form and the impact of January arrivals Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson, as well as loanees Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan, created significant momentum.

Now, following wildly different results for both teams on the opening weekend, there is a quiet belief amongst Evertonians that the immediate advantage they have opened up over Liverpool thanks to a striking win over Manchester United will remain come May 19.

It is not hard to see where confidence comes from. If Everton’s fortunes in the transfer market last summer were dispiriting, this time around they have been assured, and the return of Pienaar, coupled with the additions of Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas, augur well.

Ideally, Moyes will make another addition before the window closes – he needs to bolster his midfield and is pursuing different options – and if he can do that, Everton will be well equipped for the battles that lie ahead.

'We want to keep progressing,' said Moyes. 'I see clubs who are supposed to be skint still spending money. Everyone here is still feeling good after the way we finished last season and we have still got the same group of players.

Different days: Everton made a flying start to the Premier League campaign, while Liverpool were humiliated at West Brom

Different days: Everton made a flying start to the Premier League campaign, while Liverpool were humiliated at West Brom

Different days: Everton made a flying start to the Premier League campaign, while Liverpool were humiliated at West Brom

'I think that we have got quite a good
team, one that can compete. We are a little short of numbers but we have
got good young players coming into the team and we will continue to
promote them when we can. I hope that we can continue to build.'

Moyes may have sold Jack Rodwell to Manchester City but the fact he managed to keep hold of Marouane Fellaini, who was a target for Chelsea and Paris St Germain, and Leighton Baines in this window was noteworthy.

Good business: David Moyes has made all the right noises this summer

Good business: David Moyes has made all the right noises this summer

Their influence in this team is crucial and the widespread feeling around Goodison is that this will be the campaign when Fellaini really blossoms. His start against Manchester United, scoring and dominating, could hardly have been more impressive.

Similar sentiments apply to the team. If Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is expecting a campaign of transition at Anfield, as he tries to establish his philosophy, Moyes – who has entered the final year of his contract – will be looking for Everton to make familiarity pay.

His is a settled side, one that knows how to fight, plays good football and never fails to rattle the big teams when they come up against them. Should they build up a head of steam in the first few weeks, Liverpool could find it difficult to peg them back.

'If Liverpool have had a stranglehold over Everton in the past, it won't go on forever,’ Moyes said before a Goodison Park derby in April 2003. ‘Whether we are yet ready to turn it round, I don't know, but I hope we will be at some stage.’

He, more than anyone, will be hoping that stage has now finally arrived.