EVERTON’S pre-season training preparations will be given an extra edge by the publication of yesterday’s Premier League fixtures for 2012/13.
The Blues have been handed a cracking opening day clash with Manchester United, and former Everton star David Unsworth believes that the high profile opener will give a real sense of purpose to the players when they report back to Finch Farm next month.
“It’s a magnificent match to start the season,” said Unsworth. “But the real benefit will come when the lads come back for pre-season.
“It will focus everyone’s minds immediately. When you’ve got such a big match to kick-off the season it gives everyone a target to aim for.
“It creates a sense of anticipation straight away.”
Blues skipper Phil Neville revealed he was already excited about the opening day clash with his former club.
He asked his dad to e-mail the fixtures to him in Los Angeles so he would have them available when he woke up, then tweeted: “Man Utd at home first game of season. What a great start to the season. Wish it was today!”
Unsworth, who was in the Everton team which kicked off the season against a treble winning United team in 1999, believes that facing Alex Ferguson’s men on day one can have other benefits.
“The opening day can be a good time to play the teams who expect to be challenging for honours,” he added.
“You can catch them cold.
“We played United in 1999 when they’d just won the treble and we were on a bit of a hiding to nothing, but we went out and got a deserved draw.
“And I remember when Newcastle came to Goodison on the first day of the season in 1996. They’d finished runners-up the season before and signed Alan Shearer, but we were really, really focused, beat them, should have won at Manchester United three days later when we drew 2-2, then drew at Tottenham on the Saturday.
“Having such a run of big games at the start helped focus everybody during pre-season.”
Unsworth is hoping to be involved in pre-season training himself later this summer.
After working as a coach and then caretaker manager at Preston North End, the former Blues defender has been looking for another coaching appointment since Graham Westley took over at Deepdale and brought in his own staff.
The SFA invited him to tutor and mentor some of their leading young coaches this summer, but he is keen to get back into regular club duties.
Blues officials, meanwhile, are urging supporters to be vigilant after learning that an unscrupulous organisation has been claiming to offer trials at the Everton Academy in return for payment.
A club statement read: “This is a complete misrepresentation of the Everton Academy and its coaches. If anyone does receive an e-mail making the offer of a trial in exchange for money or personal information then we ask you to contact the club immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.”