Friday, 17 April 2009

Everton v Man United FA Cup Semi-Final Preview much of a preview as my excitement will allow. Wembley is so close now I can almost taste it and in a deliberate attempt to avoid doing work I have dosed myself up on preview, hype, banter and nostalgia.

Here is a few of my picks to get yourself prepare for the game:

"I have no problem with the Everton fans' reaction. I understand they were upset when I left and with the way it happened."

A very honest assessment from our Wayne, his realisation that it was the manner of his departure that angered fans so much (we expected him to leave at some point, but slapping in a transfer request on deadline day and then slagging off Moyes in a book wasn't the way to go about it) may go someway to repairing the bridges that were so brutaly burned five years ago. Read the rest of his interview at the Guardian website.

From Everton hero past to Everton hero present and Tim Cahill gave a revealing interview to Brian Viner of the Independent. The Aussies stock with the fans rises by the day and if he can grab the winner on Sunday, his status as an Everton legend will be set in stone. Read the full interview here.

Nostalgia time!

The last time we met United at Wembley was,of course, in 1995. Fair play to the BBC, who have given the two semi-finals decent coverage on their site despite not having the TV rights (which is more than can be said of Sky, who conveniently skirt over matches they can't show) You can see extracts from FA Cup Final '95 Grandstand from the day itself, featuring the Blues' preparations before the game and their celebrations after. Worth a look here.

Two interesting sub-plots in this weeks build-up was the questionable focus by the BBC on Fellaini's elbow and the appointment of United's No1 fan (allegedly) Mike Riley as ref.

Now I’m not going to defend Fellaini as the evidence was there for all to see, it is something he needs to cut out, though it is a matter of technique rather than anything malicious.

But it is the timing of Brighty’s handywork on MOTD 2 which has irated Moyes (so much so he banned the BBC from the FA Cup press call at Everton’s training ground on Tuesday). Firstly it came after a great game played in a great spirit with no red cards – why not focus on that? Secondly a week before Everton’s biggest game of the season, it puts an uncomfortable focus on Fellaini and could influence the officials thinking, consciously or not.

A third and final kick in the balls for Moyes was the unbalanced nature of the piece. There was not one mention of the treatment dealt out to Fellaini by opposing defenders, and many of the stray elbows came in the first half of the season when his disciplinary record left, ahem, a little bit to be desired. Fellani deservedly received a string of yellow cards but since missing both derby games in January after collecting 10 bookings he has sought to clean up his game – despite provocation from unruly central defenders.

For example in the recent FA Cup quarter-final the actions of Middlesbrough's resident thugs, David Wheater and Robert Huth, was nothing short of brutal. I thought Fellaini did really well not to react to the provocation and gave the perfect response by scoring the equaliser. But, surprise surprise, there was not a mention of it after the game.

Referees always claim to be impartial but they are human so don’t be suprised if Fellaini receives a yellow – or red – card on Sunday for his aerial conduct.

As for Riley, well he has never been the most popular figure with Blues fans and he does have an annoying habit if giving United penalties, including one the worst decisions I have ever seen at Goodison on the last day of the 2003 season. I am just praying he has quiet game Sunday and doesn't cost us.....again.

You can read more of the Riley rumpus in my guest blog over at EPL Talk. Details of the FA defence of Riley can be found on the BBC website, Meanwhile I also discussed the Riley affair over at Leftbackinthechangingroom.

Fancy watching Gosling's moment of glory in round four? Or Osman's cracker in round three? Maybe 'king' Louis Saha's decisive header against Middlesbrough is your goal of choice? Well you can see of our goals in this years FA Cup over at


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