Memories of the New Millennium – February 2009

John P McFarlane 02/02/2020 13comments  |  Jump to last

Everton began February 2009, having just lost their unbeaten record on the final day of January at Old Trafford – a run that had stretched back to early December – courtesy of a penalty converted by Christian Ronaldo.

Due to injuries to Everton’s main strikers – Ayegbeni Yakubu ruled out for the season, following a terrible injury sustained at White Hart Lane in November, and Louis Saha not having appeared in a first-team game since November – it was left to Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill to lead the line for the Blues. James Vaughan had also been injured in training in November and had undergone surgery.

In response to this injury crisis, Everton acquired the services of Brazilian player Jo on loan from Manchester City, a player who had interested David Moyes in the summer but who he was unable to purchase due to the huge difference in the financial clout between Everton and Manchester City. Although it had been reported that Moyes may have had a narrow escape, as Jo was seen by some as being a disruptive influence in the City dressing room and was apparently more interested in the Manchester night-life than the instructions of his manager, Mark Hughes. A young Irishman, Seamus Coleman, had also arrived from Sligo Rovers before the winter transfer window had closed.

Jo – or, to give him his full title, João Alves de Assis Silva – was unable to play at Goodison Park against Liverpool in the FA Cup replay, having already appeared for Manchester City, and was thereby cup-tied.

Victor Anichebe was reportedly unhappy at Goodison Park and had sought a move away on loan before the window closed; although claims he had been disrespectful to his manager were dismissed by all parties. Victor wasn’t available for selection after he was ordered home from training on the morning of the cup replay with Liverpool. Dominic King reported that “The Nigerian striker disrupted his club’s preparations for tonight’s FA Cup 4th Round replay with Liverpool after a spat with manager David Moyes.”

A depleted strike-force didn’t deter Everton as they overcame their city rivals in a tense game which saw young Dan Gosling score the decisive goal in the closing stages of extra-time. Unfortunately, ITV’s live coverage of the game had inadvertently switched to a commercial break at the critical stage of the match and the teenage goalscorer’s mum – along with millions of others – missed the goal. She said: “When the pictures came back, all the Everton players were on the ground. I said ‘I think that’s Dan at the bottom of the pile.’ Then the commentator said Dan had scored and we all went mad.”

David Moyes was a happy manager following the victory over Liverpool, and felt that his emerging young side were closing the gap on the Premier League’s big four.

“We’ve done well against Chelsea and Arsenal, we’ve drawn against Manchester United and now we’ve beaten Liverpool. This result ranks very highly because we’ve had to play Liverpool in three games now and we’ve done well because they are a good team. But that shows where the Everton players are just now.

“I think we’re getting better, but I also think we’ve still got a long way to go. Everybody knows what the difference is – it’s the amount of money those clubs have spent compared to ours – but it’s not something we harp on about.”

Everton’s reward for the FA Cup derby victory was a home draw against Aston Villa – who had been the last team to leave Goodison with maximum points on 7 December 2008.

Prior to the FA Cup encounter with Villa, Everton still had important Premier League games to be played, the first of which was against Bolton at Goodison Park. Jo made his debut and he helped the Toffees to win all the points as he scored twice – one from the spot – in a routine victory over the abject visitors.

Jo, who had cost Manchester City ~£18M, was understandably ecstatic following his debut and he said in his post-match interview;

“The fans, the players, they all did their bit to make me feel welcome, I have felt at home here from the first moment. The spirit was as good as they told me.

“To score two goals on my debut makes it the best welcome I could have hoped for. The manager put a lot of trust in me and I had confidence.

“He does that with players. You could see it when he put a 17-year-old (Jack Rodwell) on against Liverpool and a 19-year-old (Dan Gosling) scored the winner. Phil [Neville] told me it was my prize [taking the penalty] for everything I had done and I deserved another chance to score,”

The not-so-insignificant issue of Everton’s desire to move to a new stadium in Kirkby, was grabbing the headlines in February 2009. According to David Prentice for the Liverpool Echo, Robert Elstone, Everton’s Chief Executive Officer, had reacted badly to the perceived double standards of Liverpool City Council, in the midst of the 11-week-long government inquiry into the proposed ground move.

Elstone declared: “The club is more convinced than ever that, for the foreseeable future, Kirkby is the only viable stadium option for Everton Football Club.

“Despite fanciful and extravagant claims to the contrary, I would urge you not to believe that we can build a new stand at Goodison without major risk and substantial cost.

“Not to believe we can build an expanded new stadium on the Goodison site without a time-consuming and uncertain ‘land grab’ and a significant, unachievable price tag.

“And not to believe there is an alternative site within the city boundaries, that comes with the financial support that makes it even remotely viable and deliverable.

“We might not want to hear it, but no credible evidence was presented in support of these schemes. Not one of these stadium options is real.”

The CEO also hit out at the campaigners striving to keep Everton within the city boundaries.

“Contrary to an extraordinary statement by KEIOC, this is not about Bill Kenwright ‘making a turn’ on his investment,” he said.

“The chairman has always made it clear that all he ever wants, and has ever wanted, is for the club to grow in stature for the sake of its players and staff, but most of all, for its fans.

“Kirkby has never been about the chairman ‘making a quick buck’… … Kirkby is a high specification stadium that will take us off the bottom of the stadium league table, position us at the right end and, even better, 40% of the cost is picked up by someone else.

“It will make a material difference to the manager’s spending power and, accordingly, a significant difference to our ability to compete at the highest level.

“In reality, there is no choice.”

The eagerly awaited FA Cup encounter with Aston Villa was a triumphant one for the players and supporters and all connected with Everton Football Club. Marc Vesty for the BBC reported on the match:

This FA Cup tie had all the makings of a classic after a blistering first 25 minutes that resulted in three goals and plenty of goalmouth action but it ultimately ebbed away into a comfortable victory for Everton against a Villa side which lacked its usual bite.

Everton took the lead in the 3rd minute when Arteta's corner was met by a bullet header from Cahill; his effort was stopped on the goal line by the blatant hand of Stiliyan Petrov but rebounded to 17-year-old Rodwell who poked home his first Everton goal. Referee Martin Atkinson should have taken action against Petrov but, much to the chagrin of Everton boss David Moyes, the Bulgarian was allowed to continue without so much as a word.

Three minutes later, Villa hit back against the run of play when Agbonlahor was set clear; he burst towards the edge of the penalty box but tumbled under Hibbert's mistimed lunge to give the visitors a penalty. Milner stepped up to strike a weak spot-kick that Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard got a hand to, but he only managed to turn the ball against his own body before watching it squirm beneath him into the net.

The game had no shortage of full-blooded challenges and the first yellow card was produced when Cahill appeared to deliberately use his hand to rise above two Villa defenders and flick Arteta's cross towards Friedel's goal. The big American goalkeeper saved comfortably but Cahill was booked and would be suspended for Everton's game against Newcastle the next weekend.

Soon after, Atkinson was forced to give the second penalty of the game when the impressive Anichebe bundled through a posse of Villa players before being wiped out by Sidwell who got nowhere near the ball inside the 18-yard-box and received a yellow card. Penalty expert Arteta stepped up and sent Brad Friedel the wrong way to slot his spot-kick into the bottom left corner for his 7th goal of the campaign. Two minutes later, Petrov finally received a card when he was booked for a foul on Rodwell, before Everton's Dan Gosling created himself an angle but his low drive crashed into the side-netting.

Both teams were unable to take command of possession, with counter-attacks providing the most likely source of goalmouth action. That proved to be the case on 32 minutes when Ashley Young darted down the left and checked on to his right foot to swing in a tantalising ball to the edge of the 6-yard box which Agbonlahor somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

Everton continued to shade the best of the possession in the second half, with Arteta at the heart of most of the good things that came from the home side. Villa worked hard but there was little quality and they struggled to get wingers Milner and Young into the game, leaving Carew stranded and ineffective.

That was until the hour mark when Milner finally found some space, whipped over a cross and a nonchalant flick from Carew forced Howard into an incredible acrobatic save down to his right. As the goalmouth action petered out, Villa had a couple of half-chances, a header from Sidwell rolling wide, and an Ashley Young drive threatening Row Z, but it was Everton who secured the quarter-final spot with 15 minutes to go.

Anichebe, more than justifying his recall, sent over a troublesome cross from the left that evaded the Villa centre-halves as well as Gosling but Cahill was unmarked on the edge of the 6-yard box and he bundled home to put his side into the next round.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Gosling, Neville, Arteta (Castillo 90), Rodwell, Cahill, Anichebe (Yobo 88).
Subs Not Used: Nash, Van der Meyde, Jacobsen, Baxter, Wallace.
Booked: Hibbert, Cahill, Rodwell.
Goals: Rodwell (4’), Arteta (pen:24’), Cahill (76’).

Aston Villa: Friedel, Gardner, Knight, Davies, Luke Young, Milner, Sidwell (Delfouneso 83), Petrov, Ashley Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
Subs Not Used: Guzan, Harewood, Salifou, Shorey, Albrighton, Lowry.
Booked: Sidwell, Petrov, Milner.
Goals: Milner (pen 8’)

Attendance: 35,439
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

Following the game, Everton’s Tim Cahill, pointed to the black armband he was wearing as a sign of respect to those who had been affected by the bush fires that had ravaged his native Australia in the week leading up to the cup-tie.

“I dedicated the goal to the people who have lost their lives in Australia in the bush fires,” he said. “It has affected all the Australian national team and puts everything into perspective.

“I’m just really happy I can put something back.”

He added: “This is a massive win for us. This is what we play for. People say finishing inside the top four is a big task but this cup is amazing and we want to achieve something special.”

Everton got the cup draw that they would have chosen for the 6th Round as Middlesbrough would ultimately be their opponents at Goodison Park in March.

Youngster Jack Rodwell (17) was rewarded for his FA Cup exploits with a new contract which was set to run until 2014.

Rodwell said “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, so I’m just pleased to get it signed now. I’ve been here since I was seven, so it’s been 10 good years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

“Obviously I want to become a regular starter for Everton, but it will take time and hard work so I know that I just have to keep working.

Everton’s next port of call was to St James’s Park, Newcastle, not a happy hunting ground for David Moyes as he had failed to taste victory at that ground on seven previous occasions. Once again. Moyes left Newcastle having failed to win, but even though Everton may have been cursing the dropped points in a goalless draw, it was what proved to be the season-ending injuries to Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe which were of greater concern to the manager and all Evertonians.

Arteta suffered his injury in the very early stages of the game; it seemed an innocuous moment at the time but proved to be catastrophic for the influential Spaniard as he was taken away from the action on a stretcher, following his tackle with Peter Lovenkrands. Anichebe’s injury arose from a wreckless and sickening challenge by Kevin Nolan who was given a 3-match ban following his red card offence.

In the final game of February, Everton faced basement club West Brom, led by Tony Mowbray, as Everton welcomed back Louis Saha to the first-team fold. Everton won the game thanks to goals from Tim Cahill and Louis Saha. It was far from a vintage performance by the Blues, but that came as no great surprise due to the ever-increasing injury list and the sheer mental fatigue of having been involved in so many high-profile games since the turn of the year.

The main thing was that Everton remained in the hunt for honours via the FA cup or could book a European campaign for 2009-10 via their league position – if only they could continue to show their resilience in the face of adversity for a couple of more months.

For more details of any of the games mentioned above or indeed any Everton match during the last 25 years, ToffeeWeb has a huge array of information and match reports plus line-ups etc — just click on ‘Seasons’ then select ‘Past Seasons’.

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Reader Comments (13)

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Christy Ring
1 Posted 02/02/2020 at 20:22:24
John, the tackle or should I say assault by Kevin Nolan on Anichebe, was absolutely shocking, he should have been jailed. If I remember rightly, Victor brought a civil case against him. We lost Arteta, and Jagielka did his cruciate, before the cup final, two massive players, who we couldn't afford to be without against Chelsea.
Andy Crooks
2 Posted 02/02/2020 at 21:06:53
Christy, I agree. In one of his most despicable utterances as our manager, Moyes absolved Nolan of blame and said of Nolan" he's not that kind of lad". Actually, Moyes he was. Nolan was as low a form of vermin that ever contaminated football.
Christy Ring
3 Posted 02/02/2020 at 22:18:42
Andy, agree entirely, I remember Moyes saying that, which was despicable, especially as Nolan at the time, was on 9 yellow cards, one more was an automatic suspension, which showed he definitely was that type of player.
Ray Roche
4 Posted 02/02/2020 at 22:32:46
Christy, I think we also lost Yakubu.
Tamhas Woods
5 Posted 02/02/2020 at 22:37:48
My guesses for the rest of the year if you're just doing the 2000s.

March 2002 (Moyes etc, why else?!)
April 2005 (No reason needed)
May 2009
June 2007 (The core of Moyes' best squad completed)
July 2002 (Great blue presence at World Cup)
August 2004 (Rooney sold, start to 2004/05)
September 2006
October 2008 (Neville on Ronaldo)
November 2007
December 2004

Steve Carter
6 Posted 03/02/2020 at 03:03:52
I always enjoy reading your recollections, John. Thank you. Got me thinking of those who played in that 2009 cup tie I'd transport in my time machine to now: Howard (slightly better than the present incumbent IMO), Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Arteta, Cahill. Was close to sending Hibbo. Sadly, the one thing that has returned with a vengeance is the bushfires.
Jim Bennings
7 Posted 03/02/2020 at 08:20:08
I remember that Cup run well.

Who can forget the three matches we had against Liverpool in the space of three weeks, starting with the 1-1 draw at Anfield in the league.

You couldn’t slide a razor blade between those two sides in those three matches and we did well to limit them and eventually prevail in the Goodison “tic-tac” replay.

I think when we got through the Quarter Final at home to Middlesbrough I really thought that was our year and was convinced we would somehow do it when we won the shootout in the Semi.

Sadly we ran into Chelsea at the wrong time for many reasons.

They had just lost a very ill tempered Champions League Semi Final to Barcelona in injury time and also at the time we had gone a full decade nearly without beating Chelsea.

They were the last team we wanted to face in that Final especially shorn of the spine of our team.

It was a boiling hot day I seem to recall and the euphoria of that Saha thunderbolt never seemed to even have time to settle before Drogba levelled the scores and we simply died on our feet, heat, injuries and mental exhaustion following a tough season was visibly taking its toll on that team.

It’s a disgrace that this is the last Cup Final we have taken part in, 11 years has been allowed to pass again with so much as even a League Cup Final outing.

This day in 2009 proved why Everton fans need a trophy before much longer, the club is being starved so much of big occasion matches in the modern era.

Jim Bennings
8 Posted 03/02/2020 at 08:25:12

I think if we could transport Louis Saha from that team I’d be more than happy too!

Saha is up there with Rooney as being the most naturally gifted centre forward I’ve seen in 30 years at Everton.

He was robbed of many games through injuries but when he was fit he was absolutely devastating, lightening quick, left and right foot were equal to eachother, heading ability brilliant, he could do anything.

I’d even add Ossie as a squad player, far better goal threat and technical ability than most of our regular first team midfielders.

Rick Tarleton
9 Posted 03/02/2020 at 08:35:58
I congratulate you, John, on an excellent piece, while I can still name teams and recall games from the fifties and sixties, games of the last thirty years merge into an amorphous mist. Your piece reminds me of moments that were highly charged at the time, but which had slipped out of the radar.Thank you.
David Ellis
10 Posted 03/02/2020 at 09:59:50
Wait what??? That was more than 10 years ago?? Aiyaah
John P McFarlane
11 Posted 03/02/2020 at 11:14:27
Rick #9 Like yourself, researching these articles helps me to remember so much that I'd forgotten even though I was in attendance for many of the games. Many thanks to yourself and others for their kind words and Tamhas @5 I hope to submit a monthly account which will include the 2010s too, but I won't be doing anything for the close season, I'm sure others could do a better job for international tournaments and the like.

Andrew James
12 Posted 04/02/2020 at 00:19:31
John - thanks ever so much for this,

In the summer 08 transfer window we'd had mixed outcomes and the injury crisis (with Arteta and Jags also to go down with bad injuries that season) really hurt us.

I'd moved into a very small and dank flat after a long term relationship ended, was close to bankruptcy and basically Everton in the winter that year were one of the only things to look forward to.

I'll always remember when Moyes walked out of the press conference when asked about Big Vic, the Tic Tac moment, putting Villa in their place, the semi final and seeing us easily beat Fulham away when it had become a bogey ground.

I don't have a bad word to say about any of that team, they gave their all and just ran out of steam when it came to Chelsea.

Perhaps my favourite season in the last 15 years.

Thanks again for writing it up!

Jim Bennings
13 Posted 05/02/2020 at 12:48:23

Don’t forget the Fellaini wigs haha.

It was a good season, we actually recorded 7 away wins by Boxing Day too!

A well organised team, big leaders in that team and we were just unlucky with injuries (as always).

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