Stubbs backs Toffees to deliver knockout blow

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

ALAN Stubbs has urged Everton to take advantage of a team in transition when they arrive at the Reebok on Saturday.

The odds favour the ex-Burnden Park defender, now part of David Moyes’ backroom staff on Merseyside, as the Toffees come to town for the first time since the club’s relegation from the Premier League.

And though Stubbs admits nothing can be taken for granted in FA Cup football, he believes the current Wanderers side are a more vulnerable prospect as Dougie Freedman continues his rebuilding job.

“You can never be confident in the cup, that’s the thing,” he said. “But when you look at the two sides on paper, we have got a better squad than Bolton.

“Dougie (Freedman) would be fearing Everton, rather than us fearing Bolton.

“There is a lot of quality in our team and hopefully we can capitalise on their little bit of instability at the moment.”

Wanderers go into the game on a run of four unbeaten, and having secured back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in two years.

But Stubbs notes that their season has been one of general disappointment in the Championship so far, and the 41-year-old reckons that inconsistency could be the chink in his former club’s armour.

“It will be a tough game for us but we’ll go there and fancy our chances of getting a result,” he told Everton TV.

“I think Bolton’s league position and performances have probably been inconsistent. They found it hard to get a run of results when Owen [Coyle] was in charge and it was difficult for them.

“They have decided to have a change of direction with a new manager and even since he has come in it has still been up and down. He’s probably trying to change personnel, the way the team play and the ethics of the team.

“It’s still a bit of a transitional period for them, so we’ll go there and hope to capitalise on that.”

Things were very different the last time that Stubbs was involved in an FA Cup tie between Bolton and Everton.

His equaliser on a memorable night at Goodison Park 19 years ago forced the replayed game into extra time. Owen Coyle’s winner then gave Wanderers a famous cup shock dubbed “White Hot Two” by the then Bolton Evening News the next day.

For the Kirkby-born centre-half, who had come through the ranks under Bruce Rioch, it was a bitter-sweet occasion.

“It’s something that I will always remember, but something that my friends and family weren’t happy about,” he recalled.

“I didn’t know what to do on that night. I didn’t know whether to celebrate or take the wrath of my friends and family who were at the game.

“We were a young team at the time and had a bit of history of causing upsets in the cup.

“We had a decent team, to be fair, and I scored the equaliser late on at the Park End and Coyley scored the winner in extra time. It was a bit of a surreal moment for me. Obviously I was happy that we had won but I didn’t want it to be against Everton.

“There were mixed feelings but it was great from my point of view to play at Goodison, especially as I didn’t know what was going to happen in the future.”

Stubbs went on to play for Everton, via a move north of the border with Celtic, and scored at the Reebok in a 2-2 draw soon after joining his boyhood club – a game that also saw Paul Gasgoigne get on the scoresheet for the Blues.

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