Friday 23 March 2018

Everton boss David Moyes calls for greater clarity on grappling in the box

Everton boss David Moyes has called for clarity on "grappling" between players in the box.

The topic has come under the spotlight in the past few days following the Toffees' 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at Stoke last Saturday, during which there were several notable moments where their midfielder Marouane Fellaini came together with Potters captain Ryan Shawcross in the hosts' area as they jostled for position at set-pieces.

In one incident not spotted by referee Mark Halsey at the time, Fellaini floored Shawcross with an apparent headbutt, something for which the Belgium international apologised after the contest and was then handed a three-game suspension by the Football Association in a retrospective punishment.

In his apology, Fellaini made reference to "a lot of pushing and pulling going on inside the Stoke penalty area", adding that he did not feel he was getting any protection from the match officials.

His team-mate Sylvain Distin has subsequently expressed frustration at what he described as "wrestling" by Potters players, suggesting a lack of consistency from officials on incidents in the box.

And asked this morning if "grappling" in the area was something that needs to be dealt with, Moyes said: "It is not part of the game and the only people who can stamp it out are the referees.

"It is for them to sort out, not us. If they think grappling is okay, then they need to tell us all because then we will all do it and make it harder for people to move or run in the box.

"It has to be the same for everybody - if grappling is allowed, we all have to be allowed to do it."

Everton, who take on 11th-placed West Ham at Upton Park tomorrow, slipped from fourth to sixth in the table having been held to the draw at the Britannia Stadium.

With them only being beaten twice in the league so far this season, though, overall it has been yet another impressive campaign for the Toffees under Moyes, their manager for more than a decade now.

The 49-year-old has often been touted for other major jobs in English football, and today he indicated he would indeed be interested in working away from Goodison Park in the future - but with a German club.

"I'm one of these people who always likes to try to keep learning in the game if I can, and not just think that the job is easy - and it never is easy," Moyes said.

"I have mentioned Germany because I think at the moment Germany is one of the up-and-coming countries.

"I think their teams are doing very well and that their games are full every week.

"So it is maybe something for the future, but not for just now."

With regard to the present, Moyes admits the confirmed loss of Fellaini for the next three games has left him with plenty of thinking to do in terms of his team.

The Scot said there was "quite a lot" of injury news within his squad, and although reluctant to be drawn on any specifics, he did report that Phil Neville (knee) and Victor Anichebe (hamstring) could soon be back in action.

"Thankfully it looks like Phil and Victor have got a chance of returning from injury," Moyes said.

"They are on their way back which gives us some extra bodies.

"I don't know if anyone can fill the void of Marouane.

"We might have to alter the way we play a little bit without him, so we will look at it and see if we can find the right solution."

Along with Neville and Anichebe, Moyes has also had Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) and Tony Hibbert (calf) sidelined in recent weeks.

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