From my seat: Sunderland (A)

By Ken Buckley   ::  20/04/2013 After our long journey to The Emirates on Tuesday, we set off in the opposite direction for the delights of the North East with a spring in our step, facing a poor Sunderland side whom we hadn't lost to for some eleven years — surely could not prevent Champions League aspirants the three points — or could they?

A big crowd of just under 45.000 were up for it. 5 or 6 thousand Blues were drowned out by the ebullient Mackems high on the away derby success and the novelty of Di Canio as manager for his first home game. T-Shirts with Di Canio on were certainly popular.

Teams announced and Osman in for Barkley and captain to boot as Jagielka's ankle ensured he missed out with Heitinga taking over. That looked plenty good enough to gain the three points on offer but that of course was on the assumption that they played to their potential. The travelling hoards were confident and saw no reason for doubt as the game started with Sunderland obviously pumped up but nothing special as we diffused anything in the final third that they attempted.

The best they offered was a Graham shot saved by Howard and a Larsson free kick that went just over.

We played some pretty build-up stuff from back, through midfield but always ended up being bereft of ideas in the business area which gave this fan his first few flutters and doubts. We didn't seem quite at it and, no matter where you looked, a spark of inspiration was not remotely forthcoming. In fact, of the whole first half, I scribbled a quick note to denote a Mirallas in-and-out run that actually ended in a shot that was deflected wide.

The best I could record after that was a succession of corners where we threatened but flattered to deceive. Heitinga got booked for an obvious block and Fellaini was the one player trying to knit front to back but far too often he was left with trying to do both jobs himself, such was our lack of movement... not to mention 'verve'.

That was the nature of the half as the clock ticked toward the break and both sets of players seemed to have settled for 0-0 but, almost at the end of about 4 mins of time added, Howard bowled the ball out to Baines, for some inexplicable reason the England full-back switched off completely and laid a ball directly to the feet of Sessegnon, completely missing out Gibson. This had the effect of leaving our rear-guard out of defensive position and the lad strode forth and planted a daisy cutter past Howard and into the corner of the net. The faithful were very quiet as they reflected on that error and many were of the opinion Howard should have done much better.

From the kick-off, the whistle to end the half was soon sounded, leaving us to spend the break bemused by our lack of just about everything. Were these the same players that have got us into such a lofty position? We expected the 'Hair Dryer' to be plugged in during the break.

As the teams took to the field, something had gone on as Jelavic replaced Gibson who had been anonymous first half — along with quite a few others.

This half turned out to be more frustrating than the first as basic errors from top players such as Baines, Pienaar, and Osman along with lesser lights such as Heitinga, Anichebe and Jelavic saw moves break down in a fashion that belied their talent and left the faithful nursing an undercurrent of anger. To be fair, we did try to lift them from time to time but we were fighting a losing battle as, time after time, they lost the ball through either sloppiness of thought or just sheer lack of determination in tackles, 'Weak as wet lettuce' came to mind.

Again we forced a few corners but no direct threat on goal. Coming up to 80 mins the shouts of 'Change something Moyes' rang out and he did. Barkley and Naismith came on for Osman and Anichebe. The latter two had been poor and it was all the more disappointing in Vic's case as he had shown enough to suggest he may yet make it big for a few games previously but today.... Hmmm.

Barkley and Naismith made little if any difference and any semblance of a grandstand finish was not forthcoming. We did have a moment of comedy when a Sunderland player attempted a pass back to his keeper but almost chipped him thus forcing him to handle . We got an indirect free kick about 8 yards out. Everybody back for them and almost everybody up for us. The area in front of goal was packed shall we say. The ball was tapped to Baines, he blasted with ferocious power — guess what? It hit the bodies in front of him — Surprise! Surprise!!!

It did cause a right old scramble though but without any threat on the Mackems' goal. I do wonder why almost all teams blast the ball in those situations when a bit of finesse in say a delicate chip toward a top corner away from the keeper seems to me to have a hell of a lot more chance of success.

As the clock ticked, we did get a lot of ball into the box but end product was not on our agenda today and it almost got worse on one Sunderland break when Johnson was allowed access down the right without challenge and he cut in and powered a shot which luckily hit Howard and bounced away.

Final whistle and not a lot of empathy between players and fans today as the realisation that a top five finish to ensure European involvement seems as distant as an Everton goal.

MotM — Fellaini

Overall a poor matchday experience when, for whatever reason, I was astounded when reflecting on the game that only Fellaini, Coleman and Distin had performed anywhere near the level necessary to continue the challenge for the high finish. Three worthwhile players out of fourteen on view is staggering. Is it that we just cant handle the Saturday-Midweek-Saturday scenario? Or is it just simply that we have such a small squad of players of the required standard to compete for Europe that we remain 'Nearly Men' of all competitions entered?

I think many a fan may be relatively happy with getting high finishes season on season, and indeed that is a credit to both manager and players considering the monetary straight-jacket that thwarts us... but, for me, the frustration of knowing that we are so near to achieving something and putting Everton on the world stage via a Champions League campaign is thwarted by a board who are unable to finance such a push or find suitable buyers who can.

This is then compounded by their refusal to explain things to their own shareholders and indeed the legion of fans whom they exhort to buy season tickets early without us knowing if we will have a manager — let alone money for a player or two.

It's all very sad and a shame to witness our club so near yet so far... and that's where the frustration kicks in.

Four games to go. Can we win them all and others implode? Unlikely... but many of us will be there to find out. And you know what: just to prove we must be mad, our gang have all renewed our tickets for next season.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Patrick Murphy
407 Posted 21/04/2013 at 00:48:50
Good summation as usual Ken and the key phrase for the 2012-13 season ' Frustration', frustrated at being so close but no cigar, not reaching Wembley and having a £6m striker who appears to have lost any ability he once had. We may still be able to catch Spurs but I wouldn't hold my breath and we'll have to hope that 6th is the lowest that we finish.
Bob Parrington
420 Posted 21/04/2013 at 01:46:20
Good one again, Ken.

We just weren't good enough on the day. Osman, Pienaar and Anichebe were very ordinary. We went back to building up our attacks at a snail's pace and we barely had a shot on goal.

Sunderland were fired up by the fiery Italian and their win against their local arch rivals last week. We needed to be inspired but looked flat from the start.

COYB

Dick Fearon
422 Posted 21/04/2013 at 02:19:16
Ken another excellent report yet I beg to differ where you say our hopes have been thwarted by a board that is unable to fund signings.

There are several board members well able to release the cash yet they have no intention of doing so.

Ajay Gopal
430 Posted 21/04/2013 at 04:45:21
As you rightly say, Kev, "frustration" is the key word - so near, yet so far - sums it up perfectly. I would venture the same with Moyes - he is 'nearly' the perfect manager, but not quite. The one blind spot he has is blind faith in the tried and trusted pros even when they are not playing well and his distrust of younger players. Stones must be wondering why he left the excitement of playing every week in the Championship to rot on Everton's bench. Jelavic has completely lost it and Anichebe is back to his blow hot blow cold routine, so why not try McAleny or Velios with 15-20 minute cameos. Maybe, they will produce a moment of magic.
Brian Garside
484 Posted 21/04/2013 at 09:13:17
It is also a refusal by DM to use the players he has available within the small squad. Oviedo and Vellios are prime examples. Even when they have performed well, they get dropped in favour of a half-fit first-choice favourite. Mucha won us points against very tough opponents and is immediately benched.

Someone wrote on these pages that, when Vellios plays, Jelavic scores. Vellios is also capable scoring too but does not even make the bench when our failing is in front of goal.

Oviedo provides pace, tenacity and skill which is what was missing yesterday. The result of not using/rotating is a tired and uninspired 1st XI. When will he learn that past merits do not win matches. Create instead of remove competition for places. It keeps them on their toes.

Christopher Timmins
509 Posted 21/04/2013 at 10:36:53
Ken, thanks yet again for another spot on report. Four more to enjoy before the summer break.

Even the eternal optimist in me tells me that yet again its another year of coming up shy. When you have experienced the success of the mid 80's it's very sad to see. There are people in their early twenties following the team who have never seen them achieve any league or cup success.

For what it is worth we can't handle the Saturday midweek Saturday scenario. That's why Chelsea, City, United and Arsenal always make 3 or 4 changes when faced with such a situation.

Nick Entwistle
542 Posted 21/04/2013 at 12:54:41
Two thoughts on the back pass.

1, is it really a yellow card offense?
2, If its indirect, why bother to touch it before Baines' strike. It would never have flown untouched into the net anyway, so just allowed Sunderland to close down.

Andrew Rimmer
544 Posted 21/04/2013 at 13:03:01
My thought on the back pass. The goalie denied an obvious goal scoring chance. Red card.
Nick Entwistle
546 Posted 21/04/2013 at 13:06:16
True Andrew, but unfortunately 'Inside his own penalty area a goalkeeper cannot be guilty of a handling offence incurring a direct free kick or any misconduct related to handling the ball.'


Steve Edwards
547 Posted 21/04/2013 at 12:56:09
Oh well, that's that then, at least it looks like we won't have to play in that dreadful Europa League competition with a tiny squad. The reason for failure this year for me is the fact that the centre forward who I honestly expected to get 30 goals this season, didn't. In all the time I've followed the blues this will go down as one of the biggest mysteries for me. I just can't believe that a player as good as him last year can become what he is now. It's not as if he has had a really bad injury. If he had carried on his form of last year we'd have cake walked into the top four.
Brent Stephens
550 Posted 21/04/2013 at 13:16:58
Steve, yes. Jelavic seems to have just sunk without trace. What really strikes me is how poor his first touch is. And how appalling his sense of position is when he gets caught offside time and time again even though he's able to look right across the back line. And his atrocious tendency to just fall to the ground looking for a foul. I like the guy's willingness to put a shift in, and his instinctive touch right in front of goal. But otherwise he just has nothing.
Andrew Dutton
562 Posted 21/04/2013 at 14:18:05
Just a thought; if a defender 'commits a foul' and prevents a goalscoring opportunity, it's a red card. Yesterday, when Larsson's pass back was clearly going into the net, and their keeper prevented the goal by committing the foul by using his hands illegally, is this not a red card offence? Nit picking I know, but was just curious, as it wasn't your standard back pass.
Danny Kewley
578 Posted 21/04/2013 at 14:47:03
I have been thinking about the mystery of Jelavic all day, I mean, to be absolutely brilliant this time last year and ale-house standard now defies logic. The way he readily takes to diving when he's even very lightly tackled is laughable! Mind you the biggest mystery of all was yesterdays performance by our load of inglorious bastards. Fuck it .................Pint time.
Mohammed Horoub
579 Posted 21/04/2013 at 14:57:31
I agree, those 10 goals we're missing from Jelavic at this point in the season would have had us in the thick of the CL race...

Not sure if there's any truth to the rumor that he isn't happy with his contract and wanted better terms last Summer... From a technical perspective we are playing with the same formation and players as last year but his confidence is gone and maybe the contract issue has crept into the back of his mind...

Donald Twain
580 Posted 21/04/2013 at 15:12:27
Mmmmm... spuds playing like their lives depended on it and want 4th!

Osman and Moyes.....

Clive Lewis
583 Posted 21/04/2013 at 15:16:14
Jelavic, Manager motivation is the issue. Certain managers use scare tactics and aggression to get the best out of players, Moyes I believ from what the palyers have sadi is this type of manager, some of the players have hinted that this is the case. Jelavic has probably not responded positively to this type of manager and maybe needs a confidence type of approach to get the best out of him. This is my take on things because a goal scorer does not all of a sudden have no confidence. just look at the situation with the waiter and Torres and you can see what I am suggesting.
Paul David
585 Posted 21/04/2013 at 15:14:37
Nick

I was watching Kammy this morning on Sky Sports and he said what the ref did was wrong (your thinking you already know that, it should have been a red) but according to the rules a keeper can't be punished with a red or a yellow for handling from a back pass. Unbelievable, the rule needs to be changed. Because it was a back pass the keeper should be seen as an out field player and be punished like one, a red card and a penalty.

Your second point is a very good one but I don't think there is an obvious solution to scoring from that situation, hardly ever do you see a team score from them.

Patrick Murphy
588 Posted 21/04/2013 at 15:27:02
Well that's it then no Europe and reduced to a domestic squabble with our nearest and dearest, as has been mentioned the difference between having a goalscoring forward and not is the reason we lost our way this season. Until Spurs took off Adebayor and replaced him with Defoe, they too looked toothless and lacking in ideas, but they were able to change it and reaped the rewards.

In defence of Jelavic yesterday, he looked really fed-up when Sunderland scored, so it doesn't look as if he's unhappy at the club, but it is one of Everton's many mysterious that will probably never be solved.

On the point of the back-pass if an outfield player or goalkeeper fouls someone outside the area and prevents a goalscoring opportunity does it result in a direct free-kick? If it does then surely it should have been a penalty yesterday.

Clive Lewis
589 Posted 21/04/2013 at 15:31:19
Well spurs winning against City has confirmed we are playing for 6th place, come on Chelsea. Shame really this could have been avoided if BK would have given the funds for a couple of players in January, this is something we all knew after January.
Ciaran Duff
898 Posted 21/04/2013 at 23:35:58
Complacency all around. from team, club AND fans.
Not having a go at you personally Ken (I really enjoy your balanced reports) but to me, your opening paragraphs show the general lack of respect paid to this fixture and to Sunderland ("poor team" "saw no reason for doubt" etc.)

There seemed to be no build up to this game, in complete contrast to say Spurs and Arsenal games. Indeed, the pre-match thread was only started a few hours before the game. As I wrote in that thread (before the game), this game had ominous signs. Anyone who saw the performance (not just result) of SLAND last week would see that they are not a poor team. Their performance against Chelsea away was also good. Combine that with the fact that we were backing up from a tough midweek game, them having a home game (full house?) and of course PDC running up and down the line. As they say here in Oz, Blind Freddy could have seen it coming.
Although, certainly 4th and most likely 5th places are gone it would be easy for us to sleepwalk to the end of the season. I hope that doesn't happen as I still think it is important that we finish above the RS (for lots of reasons beyond local bragging rights).

Andrew Burns
087 Posted 22/04/2013 at 20:34:04
Always appreciate your posts Ken.

I have a question if you or any other one can help me.

I΄m coming to the west ham game with my family and I would normally go in the Wimslow for a drink before the game. Last time I was at a game against WBA it was closed. Can you recommend a decent Blues pub where I can go for a drink with the family. Wife , daughter 22 and son 20. Appreciate any help.

We normally park on the big car park on the other side of Stanley Park past the cementry.

Ken Buckley
151 Posted 23/04/2013 at 09:01:33
The Spellow is popular. Just up from the Winslow past the Church and bear left. One I like the Abbey on Walton Lane just up from from the Everton one store. A bit further from the ground Wetherspoons on Walton Rd is popular. Enjoy your day and let's hope you see a good win.
George McKane
154 Posted 23/04/2013 at 09:37:32
Andrew,

Come to The Barlow Arms in Westminister Road, better known as The Dark House. Most welcome — have a look at Facebook (The Dark House Blues)... very welcome!

Scouse and butties free after the game... a great Blue Pub, away fans are always made welcome. Very friendly, family friendly — ask for me if you come in early. See you there.

Harold Matthews
191 Posted 23/04/2013 at 11:29:49
Yeah,. Terrible Baines pass but Gibsons half-hearted tackle was even worse, not to mention Distin backing off and, like a true Frenchman, refusing to take one in his sexpack.

Not a good day for The Blues. We badly need a quick natural goalscorer up front and a strong athletic mid-fielder who tackles like a tiger, is comfortable on the ball, can pick a pass and is not short of pace. Sounds like I'm dreaming of Ya Ya Toure who is bit out of BK's price range but ,with the whole world to pick from, there must be someone out there who could do a decent job.

Steavey Buckley
192 Posted 23/04/2013 at 13:34:30
The tactics employed by Moyes failed to recognise the importance of using 3 at the back to release Baines and Coleman as wing backs as part of an offensive team to counter a Sunderland team playing at home buoyed up by their recent win against their arch rivals Newcastle. The bad pass which led to the goal was about Baines being undecided at about his role, to get forward or stay back.
Andrew Burns
194 Posted 23/04/2013 at 14:08:40
Ken and George,

Thanks for the tips.

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