Football: Everton's changing of the guard pays off

Crystal Palace 1 Everton 3
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The Independent Online
Paul Newman

Crystal Palace 1

Everton 3

Typical. You wait more than a year for an away victory in the Premiership and then two come along one after another. Not that Everton's long-suffering fans will be complaining after their team built on their victory at Leicester by winning at Selhurst Park on Saturday to climb finally out of the relegation zone.

It has been a long haul for Howard Kendall, who has chopped and changed in search of the right formula. After the recent emphasis on youth the key here was experience. Slaven Bilic, Gary Speed and Craig Short all returned and Mickael Madar, the French international signed from Deportivo La Coruna, made his debut.

Bilic and Short brought solidity to the defence, while Madar, a tall and strong striker with a good touch, looked capable of forming a productive partnership with Duncan Ferguson and Nicky Barmby, who for once showed the qualities that persuaded Everton to pay pounds 5.75m for him.

Yet Kendall himself admitted that his team still had a long way to go, for this comfortable victory was achieved thanks largely to some dreadful defending. Although Everton's approach play was good, Barmby, Ferguson and Madar were all unmarked deep in the penalty area when they scored.

While scoring has been a problem for Crystal Palace, their defence had been reasonably secure until now. In the first half, however, Everton repeatedly opened them up to inflict the home team's sixth defeat at Selhurst Park this season. Palace have not been helped by an ever-deepening injury crisis and Neil Emblen and Simon Rodger limped off here to join, among others Attilio Lombardo, Michele Padovano, Paul Warhurst, Neil Shipperley, Jamie Smith and David Tuttle in the treatment room.

Those absences led to a remarkable debut by Tomas Brolin, who proved such an expensive flop for Leeds United. Brolin, who played his last first- team game for Leeds nearly two years ago, is now a free agent and is being paid hotel expenses only during a two-week trial with Palace.

Brolin laughed when Steve Coppell first asked him to play on Saturday but the Palace manager said he had agreed as a tremendous personal favour. The 28-year-old Swedish international produced an impressive performance and his control and vision inspired Palace's best moments. In the first half at least looked the most accomplished attacking player on the pitch.

Coppell said the arrangement with Brolin was "so loose it's crazy in football terms these days" but indicated that he might try to sign him. "I'm not going to push it but I think he has a feel for the club and he knows he's wanted, which means a lot to him," Coppell said. "If he wants to stay then we will go from there."

While Coppell confirmed that Palace had made approaches for Coventry's Dion Dublin and Newcastle's Temuri Ketsbaia, he said he did not believe it would be possible to revive the plan to sign Celtic's Tommy Johnson on loan. Kendall, meanwhile, said he was keen to keep Speed at Goodison Park despite recent transfer speculation, but indicated that Andy Hinchcliffe could still go despite the apparent collapse of his proposed move to Tottenham.

Goals: Barmby (2) 0-1; Ferguson (11) 0-2; Dyer pen (16) 1-2; Madar (34) 1-3.

Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Miller; Edworthy, Linighan, Roberts, Hreidarsson, Gordon; Fullarton, Emblen (Boxall, 46), Rodger (Bent, 62); Dyer, Brolin. Substitutes not used: Quinn, Ginty, Nash (gk).

Everton (3-5-2): Myhre; Short, Bilic, Tiler; Thomas, Barmby, Grant (Farrelly, 71), Speed, Ball; Madar (Cadamarteri, 75; Thomsen, 84), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Oste, Gerrard (gk).

Bookings: Palace: Rodger. Everton: Ball, Bilic.

Referee: G P Barber (Pyrford).

Man of the match: Bilic.

Attendance: 23,311.