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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May, 2005, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Everton's fourth place is fully deserved

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Everton boss David Moyes
If Everton finish fourth they deserve to be in the Champions League next season
Alan Hansen

Everton's hold on fourth place in the Premiership has every chance of becoming permanent should they beat Newcastle United at a sell-out Goodison Park on Saturday.

David Moyes and his side have caused quite a few complications for those who expected them to fall away in the second half of the season, particularly after the sale of Thomas Gravesen.

There has even been talk that they are somehow creeping into the Champions League via the back door because those behind them have stumbled whenever they have had the chance to make up ground.

This happened again on Saturday, with Liverpool drawing and Bolton losing after Everton went down to Fulham.

Well I'm not having that.

Everton deserve to be fourth on the basis they have more points than the team in fifth. It's an old saying - but you judge it all by the league table.

The possibility that Everton would finish fourth has also stirred up a debate about who should take the last qualifying place in the Champions League if Liverpool won the tournament.

The Football Association has confirmed that the top four teams from the Premiership will qualify for next season's Champions League, meaning Liverpool could win in Istanbul and miss out on next year's competition.

My view on this is quite simple. The rules are the rules, but the rules are wrong.

But I have to say that if Everton finish fourth they have got to be in the Champions League.

You can't play for a whole season then move the goalposts and change the rules right at the end simply because of a series of unforeseen events.

It is not Everton's fault - or concern - if their rivals keep slipping up behind them
Alan Hansen

What I would say, however, is that the holders should always be able to defend their trophy.

From Everton's point of view, it has already been a fantastic season for them, irrespective of what happens now.

They qualified for the Uefa Cup with four games left - and even the most optimistic Evertonian would have been hard pushed to predict that back in August.

I am full of admiration for Moyes and his players for what they have achieved. It is a good story too because it is a success that has not been achieved on the back of massive spending.

Indeed Everton's success has been achieved on a shoestring, in relative terms.

Everton have had some unbelieveable results, and have had the happy knack of pulling out a big three points when they needed them.

What I hope is that if the situation evolves where Everton are fourth and Liverpool win the Champions League, good sense prevails at Uefa and they are both allowed in next season.





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