LEIGHTON BAINES has warned his Everton team-mates to eradicate the ‘what-if’ factor if they want to achieve something this season.
The defender is determined the Blues do not fail to live up to expectations, and wants to get last weekend’s opening day defeat by Blackburn out of his system with three points tomorrow at Goodison. Baines, who will once again hope to use his club form as a springboard to international recognition this season, said: “It’s all well and good beating Man U, Chelsea and Man City last season but then we let ourselves down in other games.
“It’s no use looking at those games wondering where we might have been. We don’t want to do that again. It’s vital we beat the sides we’re expected to.
“We expect to win all our home games but we struggled against the likes of Wolves and Stoke at home last season. It’s about time we started doing it now. No more room for what ifs.”
Baines, who was an ever-present for manager David Moyes last term, hopes his team-mates rise to the challenge of a hard-to-beat Wolves outfit, which held Everton to two draws in the last campaign.
He said: “The Blackburn game was a reality check. It puts things into perspective and makes you realise that every game is tough. We had some great results against some of the top sides last year and struggled against some of the sides you’d expect us to beat.
“That was an area you’d want us to improve upon this time around, and we didn’t at Ewood Park. With all due respect, now we’re at home to Wolves and it’s a game you’d expect us to win, so it’s important we actually do it this time rather than being another one of those games.”
Meanwhile, Steven Pienaar is reported to have spoken out on his ongoing contract impasse with Everton.
The South Africa international’s future at Goodison Park has been the subject of much debate over the summer with several other Premier League clubs said to be interested, with only a year left on his current deal.
But Pienaar, 28, is reported to have said he is happy to stay with David Moyes’s side and will sign a new contract – if the right offer is on the table.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about a transfer but I’ve never once said that I want to leave Everton,” he said.
“I love playing for Everton.
“It’s a great club with real tradition and history. You can see that at Goodison Park, an old stadium which is always full and where the fans really know their football. And you read about the history of the club too, the trophies and the old stars.
“I’ll be honest. I have a year left on my contract. I’m happy to sign a new one, but at my age it has to be right and fair. The only difference I’ve had with the club has been over what’s right.”
Joseph Yobo is one player who could be facing a temporary Goodison exit on loan. The defender was not on the bench against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, and Everton are understood to be willing to loan him to a Scottish side.