Yakubu in high spirits after first Everton treble
Hat-trick hero Ayegbeni Yakubu believes Everton are on the brink of genuine league achievement and a Wembley final.
The big Nigerian hitman, who arrived at Goodison Park in August for £11.25million, has shaken off the whispers that he is not the hardest working footballer in the top flight.
His departure from Middlesbrough came with that stigma, rightly or wrongly, hanging over him.
Nine goals in 16 games later, and eight in 10 Premier League starts, has won over the Goodison Park faithful who had heard the word about their new record signing, and needed convincing that the 25-year-old could cope with the squad's renowned work ethic.
Yakubu believes he has given his answer as Everton notched their 10th unbeaten game and headed for the Carling Cup quarter-final at West Ham on Wednesday in high spirits.
Yakubu blitzed fumbling Fulham with a second-half trio, right-foot, left-foot and a header, as the west Londoners extended their unwanted record of not winning an away league game since September 2006, 25 matches ago.
Yakubu reckons he has fitted in just fine at his new club, saying: 'I am pleased with the way things have gone. I am working so hard in training to show what I can do and I will keep believing in myself that I can score on a regular basis.
'At the moment, everything is good, the team is playing so well and it could not have gone much better for me since I arrived.
'We are fighting for everything, and the players around me give everything. They show how to play as a team and win together.
'We want to achieve something here this season. If we have not done that by the end of the season I will be very disappointed.'
He added: 'We can play different systems, and I must admit I had not experienced 4-5-1 until now. It if different for me, I am not used to that, but I can adjust.
'It is always difficult to go to a new club and settle into their system. It can take two months, six months, but I have adapted to the system quickly and that is down to the players here who have helped me settle in.
'I have settled quickly. I have scored a lot already, but my colleagues keep working and buzzing around, and it shows the quality here.
'I am ready to give my best now for this team, we have West Ham next in the Carling Cup and I so much want to get to the final at Wembley.
'We can do it. The spirit here is good, and it is my dream to be in the final. If we can do that this season it will be so good for this club and the supporters.'
In dreadful conditions, Everton struggled to get on top of an increasingly woeful Fulham.
But Everton opened up after the break and Yakubu's power and eye for goal was the key. He scored a close-range tap-in, a far-post header and a clever turn and drive to complete his hat-trick.
It was Everton's first since Steve Watson bagged three at Leeds five years ago, and provided clear evidence that Yakubu has shaken off the claims from Middlesbrough about his lack of effort.
He said: 'Things have gone really well for me here since I joined, the team is playing some very good football.
'We deserved to beat Fulham and we are doing well generally, fighting for each other and playing good football. I am certainly pleased about it all.
'It was a very pleasing hat-trick, right foot, left foot and with my head. I don't often score with my head, so that made me especially pleased.
'At the moment, everything is good, the team is playing so well and it could not have gone much better for me since I arrived.'
Everton boss David Moyes makes it very clear that newcomers at Goodison must be prepared to work hard.
He said: 'Yak was a top goal scorer, and one of the highest in the Premier League.
'We obviously want the other part of his game, hard work, but the goals are what we are really after on a regular basis.
'Everton have a heritage as an industrious club, you work hard when you come here, and he has taken that on board as well. In that second half he got his rewards.'
Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez saw his team outfought and outmuscled.
He said: 'It is difficult to cope with good quality players like Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta, and Yakubu made the most of his chances.
'I know it sounds like whinging again, but I thought the first goal was offside, it was another poor decision that went against us.
'It gave Everton a lift and formed the bedrock of their second-half display.
'We had to go forward from then, and that meant we could be opened up by a good side, and that is what Everton are.'