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Roberto Martinez in at Everton

Spaniard Roberto Martinez, 39, has been announced as the new manager of Everton in the English Premier League. He has reportedly signed a four year contract with the Goodison Park club and his former club Wigan will be paid around £1.5 million in compensation.

Martinez is fresh from winning the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic, having knocked Everton out of the competition at the quarter final stage and beaten Manchester City in the final at Wembley but his season was marred by poor league form which eventually resulted in relegation to the Championship. However, Everton have decided to overlook his 29.14 win percentage in the Premier League and focus on the positives of his cup performances and the reputation he built up for attractive football both at Wigan and in his previous role at Swansea, who he lead to the League One title in 2007-08.

As an individual, Martinez won the League One Manager of the Year award in 2007-08 and was Premier League Manager of the month in April 2012. He has a tough act to follow in David Moyes, who kept Everton performing above expectations season after season during his eleven years at the club. His first tasks will be to try to hold on to star players such as Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini as well as assembling his backroom staff. Many of the existing coaching team have followed David Moyes to Manchester United.

At present, Martinez’ first match in charge of Everton is scheduled to be a pre-season friendly away at Austria Vienna on the 14th of July, followed by fixtures at Accrington Stanley and Blackburn Rovers.

Managerial merry-go-round: who’s going where?

Tony Pulis’s departure from Stoke City has created another Premier League vacancy alongside those at Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton and the media juggernaut of speculation has already linked several names with the vacant posts. Whilst it seems fairly certain that Jose Mourinho will be leaving Real Madrid to return to Stamford Bridge – he’s already announced his departure from the Bernabeu and Rafael Benitez has finished his interim spell in charge of the Blues – and that the new man in charge at the Etihad Stadium will be Manuel Pellegrini of Malaga, it is much less clear who will be taking over at Goodison Park and the Britannia Stadium.

Mark Hughes is currently the bookies favourite for the Stoke job and would represent a continuation of sorts as he is seen as having a similar management and playing style to the outgoing Pulis, but Stoke fans would justifiably be worried by his recent managerial record. Others reportedly in the running are Roberto di Matteo, who won the Champions League with Chelsea this time last year, and Gustavo Poyet, who might yet leave Brighton having failed in the Championship Play-off semi finals. Roberto Martinez of Wigan is another in contention, but he is likely to aim for a bigger club and Rafael Benitez, who still lives in the north west, is a possibility, but he may also feel that his CV warrants a higher profile job. Martin O’Neill is another name that has been mentioned more and more frequently in connection with the Stoke vacancy.

Everton have been looking for a replacement for David Moyes for a couple of weeks now and the early favourite was Roberto Martinez, but his win ratio of under 30% would be a major concern for Everton fans worried about the direction their club could head in the post-Moyes era. Yes, he has just won the FA Cup, but Wigan only had to beat two other Premier League teams to do that and, although his teams do have a pleasing playing style, his Premier League record is poor and Wigan deserved to go down this season so he would be a high-risk option for a club like Everton. Vitor Periera, manager of newly crowned Portuguese champions FC Porto has seen his odds shorten in the last few days as speculation mounts that he could be the man for the job and Neil Lennon of Celtic has also been linked with the post, as has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of Norwegian club Molde. An interesting internal option could be handing a managerial debut to Phil Neville, who quit playing for the Toffees at the end of this season and is keen to pursue a managerial career one day. Michael Laudrup and Malky Mackay have also been mentioned in connection with the role.

Moyes to take over at Manchester United

Manchester United have announced that David Moyes will be their new manager, taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of this season. Sir Alex Ferguson announced his shock retirement yesterday morning and United were quick to confirm that the Everton manager will be his replacement. It is believed that Ferguson strongly endorsed the candidature of his fellow Scot for the post.

Moyes has been in charge at Everton since 2002 having previously managed at Preston North End. He has never won a top level club trophy as a manager and has no experience in the Champions League but was highly respected for his long term consistency and over-achievement on a tight budget at Everton. He did win a third tier league title with Preston and took Everton into the UEFA Cup/Europa League on three occasions. His highest league finish was fourth in the 2004-05 season, which qualified Everton for the Champions League preliminary stages but they lost to eventual semi finalists Villareal 4-2 on aggregate.

Moyes, who has won the LMA Manager of the Year award three times, has signed a six year contract with Manchester United and will hope to build the sort of dynasty associated with his predecessor. His first task at Old Trafford will be to resolve the future of England international Wayne Rooney who has reportedly handed in another transfer request. Before then he has two final matches to oversee as Everton manager starting with his swansong at Goodison Park against West Ham on Sunday followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea seven days later.

Everton Future Opponent Focus: Sporting Lisbon

Everton take on Portuguese giants Sporting Clube de Lisbon in the round of 32 Europa League tie. gives the lowdown on all you need to know pre-match.


One of the traditional top-three in Portuguese football, the Lisbon-based side can boast 18 Championships, although that is still far less than their two traditional rivals Benfica and FC Porto.  In the glory years for Portuguese club football in the 1960’s, Sporting also added their name to the pantheon of European greats by claiming the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963-64 defeating MTK Budapest.

Despite being less successful than Benfica and FC Porto on the playing field, they are generally credited with having the best youth academy in Portugal and recently brought forth such talents as Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and looking further back the like of Luis Figo.

Recent years have been less kind to Sporting, and their last domestic championship success dates from 2001/02 when they claimed the double.  Nevertheless Sporting have been more successful in Cup competitions in recent times, winning the Portuguese FA Cup in the last two seasons. 

Season so far

Last season, Sporting finished as runners-up to Porto, thus initially qualifying for the Champions League play-offs.  A last-gasp win over FC Twente, put them through to a match against Fiorentina for a place in the lucrative Group stages, but they were heavily beaten by the Italian side and were demoted into the Europa League.

It’s been a turbulent 2009/10 for Sporting so far, with league and European matches bringing very contrasting fortunes for fans of the side known as the Lions or the Green and Whites.  Domestic form has been enormously disappointing continuing a trend that has seen Sporting lose ground to their local rivals.  To further add to their misery the increasing influence of Sporting Braga on the Portuguese league has seen Sporting slip further down the internal pecking order.

This decline is reflected in their position in the table, currently fourth but languishing a full 19 points off leaders Benfica.  Home-form has been the greatest source of disappointment in 2009/10 with just four wins from 10 league matches, and just 11 goals scored. 

Hopes had been high pre-season that Sporting could be in a position to challenge at the sharp end of the table, but a sluggish start to the season saw Paulo Bento, the former manager, resign to be replaced by Carlos Carvalhal.  His arrival at the helm sparked a revival in fortunes, but a recent run of seven winning matches was broken by a 1-0 loss at Sporting Braga in January and has been subsequently compounded by elimination from the League Cup and just one point taken from the last two league games. 

Pre-Christmas, European football brought some relief for the suffering Sporting faithful and they topped Group D, which contained Hertha Berlin, Heerenveen from Holland and Ventspils, the Latvian Champions.  Sporting’s only defeat came on the final match-day of the Group in Germany, when they went down to Hertha Berlin, who have their own peculiar story of poor league form combined with strong European results.


44-year-old Carlos Carvalhal is a familiar name around the Portuguese scene having spent his entire playing career in the league, before taking up the managerial reigns at his final playing club Espinho.  After stints at various Portuguese sides, he came to national prominence by guiding his former side Vitoria Setubal (a club who know a thing or two about promising managers having had Jose Mourinho for a time as coach) to the inaugural League Cup title.  Carvalhal took up the reigns in November and will be in charge until the end of the season. 

Players to watch

The former Flamengo forward knows the route to the back of the net

The unquestioned danger-man from Everton’s perspective is Brazilian born Portuguese international striker Liedson.  The 32-year-old has been in Portugal for some six seasons and has scored goals in abundance.  However, the six-times capped international divides fans because of his willingness to go to ground under little provocation, and he will need to be carefully handled by the Everton defence.  Nevertheless last season he notched 23 goals in 33 games in all competitions, and already has 15 this season, including three in Europe. 

In the midfield Portuguese international Miguel Veloso has been perennially linked with a move to the Premiership, including at one-time to Everton.  The industrious centre-midfielder is a good user of the ball, and will be looking to try and show watching English managers that at 23 he has matured into the sort of player that could enhance a Premiership team. 


- In Liedson they have a potent goal-scorer, who will need to be subdued

- Following their recent run of bad results, the Europa League is their last chance of some silverware, so they will all out to win against Everton

- A number of gifted young players eager to make their mark on the European scene.


- Terrible recent form is likely to leave them low on confidence, so could collapse if Everton can score the first goal in the tie

- A lack of significant defensive cover in midfield areas could prove significant, as Everton possess excellent attacking options from this part of the pitch

- Lack of mobility in the centre of defence, with especially Anderson Polga susceptible to good movement

Familiar faces

Perhaps the most familiar name to fans of Everton will be Florent Sinama Pongolle, the former Liverpool forward.  The French striker is a recent recruit from Atletico Madrid, and made nearly 75 appearances for the Reds in a four-year spell managing 10 goals.  Two productive seasons in Spain after his departure from Anfield persuaded Atletico to shell out some €11 million for him at the beginning of last season.  However he was far from a qualified success in the Spanish capital, and was snapped up by Sporting this winter after being made available for transfer by a new management team at Atletico. 

There are also two ex-Tottenham players amongst the playing staff at Sporting.  Helder Postiga spent a very unhappy season at White Hart Lane in 2003/04 and is in his second season at the club after arriving from Greek football.  Despite not scoring this season in 27 appearances, he has an uncanny knack of scoring against English sides, and most memorably scored for Portugal against England in Euro 2004.

Meanwhile Pedro Mendes arrived over the winter from Glasgow Rangers, after a time in English football initially with Spurs and later with Portsmouth.  The former international midfielder made his debut in the league defeat to Academica.

Have we met before?

Everton and Sporting have never met, but Sporting have a long history of matches against English opposition, which includes a 6-4 aggregate win over Manchester United, and ties against Southampton, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers and Cardiff City (albeit representing Wales). 

Their most recent match against a team from the Premiership dates from 2007/08, when they took on Gary Megson’s Bolton in the old UEFA Cup.  After a 1-1 draw in Portugal, Sporting eased through to the quarter-finals to set up a tie against Glasgow Rangers with a 1-0 victory.  The match is best remembered for Bolton’s desperate attempts to play themselves out of the competition by fielding more or less a reserve side against both Sporting, and in the previous round against Atletico Madrid, as they sought to preserve their Premiership status.

Sporting Lisbon mulling move for ex-Everton and Portsmouth midfielder?

Could Manuel Fernandes be back on his way to Portugal?

Reports in Spain say that Sporting Lisbon are considering a move for the ex-Everton midfielder Manuel Fernandes.  Currently with Valencia in La Liga, Fernandes has been targeted by Sporting after a move for Glasgow Rangers midfielder Pedro Mendes fell through.

The one-time Everton, Portsmouth and Benfica midfielder has been targeted by the Portuguese side as they look to close the gap to the top of the table in the Superliga.  Indeed Sporting Clube de Lisbon to give them their full name are now a massive 12 points off the race for the title languishing on 27 points, with the leaders Sporting Braga and cross-city rivals Benfica on 39.

Sporting have been linked with several midfielders, most notably Glasgow Rangers’ Pedro Mendes, another player with Portsmouth links, but a deal  never came to pass, and the former FC Porto player remains in Scotland.

Manuel Fernandes has made just one start this season in the UEFA Europa League, and a further 3 sub appearances in La Liga, but has fallen behind the like of Ever Banega and David Albelda in the pecking order in the central midfield area for Valencia.

Fernandes, like so many players not featuring regularly for their first team, is desperately looking for a way out of Valencia to ensure that he keeps his place in the Portugal World Cup squad later this year.  Fernandes, a one-time regular in the heart of the midfield, made 19 league appearances for Everton in two separate spells and played ten times for Pompey as well.  However, a full deal to move to Goodison Park never came off after a potential permanent move fell foul of then-recent new rules implemented by the Premier League regarding player rights and contract ownership in the wake of the Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano affairs.

During his time in England he was a regular in the national team squad after impressing with his contribution in the middle of the park both going forward and screening the defence.  However he has made only one appearance for Portugal in the World Cup qualifying campaign, which dates back to November 2007. 

However, after making 27 La Liga appearances for Valenica last season, a slow recovery from injury and a susbequent loss of form have badly affected Fernandes this time around.  Therefore in a bid to salvage his season, he is now hoping that he can get some regular action with Sporting Lisbon.

Jageilka smashes Everton into final

Everton’s Phil Jageilka ended the extended FA cup semi final and with it United’s hopes of an unprecedented five trophies. He slotted in the final penalty of a gripping 4 – 2 shoot-out, in a semi – final to forget. Moyes was delighted, while Ferguson was left furious as a clear cut penalty was not given for United.

A nervous penalty shoot-out was not started well by Everton. Tim Cahill blasted over the bar but Manchester United failed to seize the initiative when Berbatov’s pathetic passed penalty was easily saved by Howard. Rio also missed for United while Neville, Baines and Vaughan all scored for Everton. Anderson and Vidic kept United in it by scoring good penalties but this set up Phil Jageilka with the chance to put the Toffees through the FA cup final. He calmly slotted the ball to the right of Foster and the blue side of Wembley, for the second day in a row, erupted.

Man United shocked both sets of supporters by making numerous changes to a weary team; Ronaldo, Rooney, Van de Sar and Carrick did not even travel to London. With an average age of 22, United had energy in abundance but with little experience to finish the game off. Scholes and Berbatov were brought on late in the game but failed to make big enough impact. Everton looked resilient at the back but uninspired upfront and after 90 minutes and extra time neither team scored.

Although, Ferguson seemed adamant that Wellbeck had a clear penalty appeal turned down, mid way through the second half. Wellbeck skipped past keeper Howard, but appeared to be just tripped by Jagielka well inside the box. Riley dismissed the penalty which left Everton relieved but Ferguson absolutely livid. Theories will surely be bantered about Manchester that Moyes’ mind games with referee Mike Riley appeared to have worked.

The first half of the game was quite uneventful, with no real penetration from either side. The second half had more verve and energy and Manchester United looked on top but failed to score. They seemed to miss the influential players Rooney and Ronaldo, which may raise doubts over Ferguson’s brave or arrogant decision to leave them out of the squad.

The game gained even more purpose and drive in extra-time and the combination of tired legs and a tense atmosphere lead to a more eventful match. Everton dominated the final few minutes with fresh, young substitutes Vaughan and Rodwell making an immediate impact. Vaughan miss hit a clever pass by Baines which could have finished United off with minutes to go. A silly back pass in the final seconds which made Foster give away a free kick away close to the corner flag summed up a nervous finish to the game for United.

Overall the dominant defence combinations of Vidic and Ferdinand and Lescott and Jageilka proved too impenetrable and a 0 – 0 draw had to be ended in the dreaded penalty shoot out.

Ferguson went on to complain about the penalty that never was and a bad pitch, but it’s maybe his weakened side selection that just did not have enough skill to beat a well organised Everton. Moyes, who looks like a possible successor for Ferguson, now celebrates the chance to face Chelsea on the 30th of May and lift his first major trophy with Everton.

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