Football: Speed rage to the forefront

Everton 0 Newcastle United 0
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OLD animosities run deep. Back in the blue corner of Merseyside, Kenny Dalglish could not resist showing his true colours and taking a potshot at the enemy. Everton's fans had spent the afternoon venting their displeasure over Gary Speed's controversial defection to Newcastle and it did not escape the Anfield legend's attention that the Goodison crowd had made little noise about anything else.

"In their position I'd have thought they would have been better supporting their own team rather than booing one of the opposition," he said, noting also the irony thrown up by the appearance in a blue shirt of the former Liverpool midfielder, Don Hutchison. "It's funny," added Dalglish, in his laconic way, "they were cheering for him and booing an ex-Everton captain."

Strange? Not nearly so much as the gag Speed has been obliged to wear in the wake of his pounds 6m transfer to Tyneside last month. Desperate to explain why his "dream" move to Everton turned sour, he is unable to do so because of a pledge of confidentiality signed when he left, leaving him powerless to correct the view expressed in Saturday's chanting that it all came down to money.

It is an odd business. What could possibly have gone on behind Goodison's closed doors that one party to the divorce does not want told? Something deeply embarrassing to somebody, one presumes, and which secrecy merely makes one more keen to know. It will all come out in the wash, no doubt; or in someone's autobiography.

Dalglish knows already, one can assume. Of course, he won't tell, although his comments on the matter are interesting, none the less. "Gary is an Evertonian through and through," he said. "It was disappointing to him to have to leave." So much for the greed theory, if this is true.

It took courage on Speed's part to turn out on Saturday, given the raw hostility around him. Dalglish had considered omitting him but was persuaded against the idea. Not surprisingly, Speed's influence was minimal, although he feels, in any case, he needs more time to adapt to his new side's game.

The analysis applies not only to him. Still finding their feet, too, are Newcastle's new front pair, Andreas Andersson, following his transfer from Milan, and Alan Shearer, after the long inactivity that began at Goodison last summer with his injury in the Umbro tournament. But they are growing together and may just make Newcastle, so disappointing this season, a different proposition next.

Shearer had three chances to his team-mate's one, although the Swede at least saw his effort bring a save from Thomas Myhre. But if the England captain's finishing as yet lacks precision, his eye for an opening looks increasingly focussed. The goals will soon flow.

Everton, without Duncan Ferguson and Nick Barmby among 10 unavailable seniors, gave Hutchison an instant debut following his pounds 1m move from Sheffield United and used six players aged 23 or less. As Howard Kendall said: "You send them out but you don't know how they are going to react."

In the event, they reacted well enough but could not achieve much against a defence in which Stuart Pearce was outstanding. A point maintains Everton's recovery but their climb away from the foot of the table is painfully slow.

Everton (3-5-2): Myhre; Short, Bilic, Tiler; Ward (Allen, 74), O'Kane (Oster, 57), Hutchison, Farrelly, Ball; Madar, Cadamarteri. Substitutes not used: Jevons, Gerrard (gk), Watson.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Barton, Howey, Albert, Pearce; Gillespie (Ketsbaia, 64), Lee, Batty, Speed; Shearer, Andersson. Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Peacock, Barnes, Tomasson.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds).

Booking: Newcastle: Lee.

Man of the match: Pearce.

Attendance: 37,972.