Former West Ham signing target Nikica Jelavic has the chance to rub it in

Nikica Jelavic in action. Picture: Getty
Nikica Jelavic in action. Picture: Getty
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Nikica Jelavic could have joined West Ham when he moved from Rangers to England, and the club’s assistant manager, Neil McDonald, hopes that missing out on the striker does not come back to haunt the Hammers when they host Everton today.

The Croatia international plumped for a move to Everton when he left Ibrox at the end of January, completing a move believed to be worth around £5 million.

West Ham were in the npower Championship at the time but manager Sam Allardyce still showed a firm interest in acquiring Jelavic, according to McDonald, who said: “There was a definite interest there and we did speak to him. Obviously he went to Everton and scored goals and proved he can play in the Premier League.

“When we saw him at Rangers we thought he could score goals in the Premier League and he’s proved that. That’s Everton’s gain.”

Allardyce ultimately led the Hammers back into the Barclays Premier League and since returning to the top flight the club have invested heavily in the likes of Matt Jarvis and the loan signing of Liverpool frontman Andy Carroll.

McDonald admits that missing out on a target such as Jelavic is hard to take, but the 47-year-old, who had a spell at Goodison as a player, believes that the signing of Carroll makes up for it.

He said: “You are always disappointed when you don’t get players who come into the Premier League and do well but we got Andy Carroll so there is a little bit of a pay-off there. We are pleased with Andy’s contribution so far, even though he has got injured.

“Of course it would (be good to have someone like Jelavic in the squad). Everton play a different system. Whoever you bring in has to try to fit in with the dynamics of the team whether they are big or small or indifferent. I think he scored goals for fun for Rangers and is an international. He is a goalscorer and that’s what we are looking for.”

A good start to the season has seen David Moyes guide Everton to sixth place in the table heading into the festive period, and McDonald has praised the structure of the Merseyside club.

“I think that they are a model for any club,” he said. “They have showed that with a little bit of finance and a good recruitment policy it is possible to get into the top six and push on towards the top four. I would think David is very pleased with where they are right now and they have a good platform going into the second half of the season.”

Moyes, meanwhile, has called for clarity on “grappling” between players in the box.

The topic has come under the spotlight in the past few days following Everton’s 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 Stoke players,.

Asked 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.”

Everton slipped from fourth to sixth in the table after being held to the draw at the Britannia Stadium. With them only being beaten twice in the league so far this season, though, 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 yesterday 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.”

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.