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Big Yin A Riposte

Declan O'Shaughnessy has a few things to tell
Ben Fardey about his views on Duncan Ferguson

You start your article / character assassination by stating "So yet again the Big Man has let me down".

Yet again?  When was the last time?  What do you classify as "let down"? 

Is it not possible that you are merely building up Duncan's attributes in your own mind?  Surely you must see that, despite whatever else you may say about Ferguson, he is not a one-man army.  He can't single-handedly win matches for us, nor can he beat the opposition on his own.  Football is a team game and, as such, should be played by a closely-knit team of players who share a common and unified goal (no pun intended). 

I would like to use this reply to challenge some of the points you raise in your article. But just so nobody is misled - Duncan is only one man.

You do concede that neither Ferguson or Campbell are receiving any service at the moment.  This concession, for me, pretty much negates much of your article.  What do you expect a centre-forward to do, exactly, without a supply of service from his team-mates? 

The quality of ball being delivered to our front-line at the moment is absolutely pathetic.  Our two wing-backs seem to be determined to prove themselves incapable of doing anything except launching hopeless (not hopeful) balls in the general direction of our forwards.  That general direction would seem to be determined as the 70 or so yards that our pitch encompasses in width and the 55 or so yards that the opposition's half is composed of.  This is a pretty large target by any stretch of the imagination - indeed so large that the American Air-Force may even be able to hit it with an air-to-surface missile.

Apart from standing at a chosen spot in the 3,850 yd area of delivery where the ball may be directed to (and lets face it, with our lot it is a bloody lottery), I fail to see what else Ferguson can do.  When the ball is delivered 10 yards higher than he can possibly jump, what can Ferguson do?  It's not Inspector Gadget up front you know!

Likewise, when Ferguson takes up a starting position on one side of the pitch only to see the ball delivered to the other side, what can he do?  The only possible solution I can see is to take some of David Unsworth's (who is rapidly forcing his way into my worst Everton players of all time team) excessive waistline and donate it to Duncan.  Then we could stick him on stilts and see how he gets on.

Put simply: don't have a go at Ferguson when the players around him cannot deliver a ball of any note to him.  By way of consideration - how many times can you remember Duncan winning a header in the box this season?  Not outside the box or near the box, but actually in the honest to goodness box?  Not often is my memory.  Why?  Because we don't bloody play the ball into the box - we don't seem to be good enough to achieve that feat.

Perhaps Mr Fardey would rather Duncan ran back and took the responsibility for the passing himself?  Maybe he should show short for a pass to feet and push Gravesen away from the ball in midfield? 

Duncan doesn't tackle back enough or make enough runs for Mr Fardey's liking.  There is a simple reason for this: our tactical genius of a manager would bellow at him if he came short, took over in midfield or made runs down the wing.  Why?  Because then we have nobody to aim the long ball at!

So what else can Duncan do except stand there, waiting for the accurate long ball that never comes?  And if that wasn't dispiriting enough, anytime he usually does win a header from a ball he can reach, Campbell has gone running in the wrong bloody direction!  Is this an example of the intelligent runs that Mr Fardey asserts Campbell to make consistently? 

A word of advice Mr Fardey - when you are playing off a target man, it is up to you to anticipate where he will head the ball to, not to run blindly into the wrong space, with your back to play and then turn around only to see the ball nowhere near you.  This is what I tend to see Campbell doing mostly these days.

I don't want to attack Campbell in the same way that Mr Fardey attacks Ferguson, but I think a few things need to be said.  Campbell has not made a career out of "being sharp in the box and making clever runs".  Campbell has made a career out of starting brightly at clubs and rapidly becoming lazy and disinterested.  He admits as much himself.  However, he assured us that he was older and wiser now and would give his all to Everton.

Instead, I think he has lost interest in us... and appointing him club captain was an absolute joke.  He has his long term contract on big money - what more does he need?  Certainly not the aggravation of working hard and trying his heart out for the club he is captain of.  I'm afraid that, when I see Campbell play, I see a player devoid of ideas with a first touch of appalling quality (the old Frank Worthington joke about a player being able to trap the ball further than he could kick it could have been written just for Campbell).

As for Ferguson being the first into the tunnel at the end of the game - I personally wouldn't blame him for that.  If I had to endure the service that Duncan is having to endure I think I would be in a state of clinical depression - never mind first into the tunnel at the end of the 90 minutes.  I'm sure if you asked Duncan about how he feels he is playing at the moment he would be the first to admit that he probably feels he isn't doing enough for the club.  But what more can he do?  That's the problem.

Anybody who saw Duncan score his first goals for Everton on release from prison (an away game against Wimbledon on a bitterly cold Boxing Day) would realise just how much Duncan loves the club.  He would never "not try".  Rather, through a mixture of incompetence and mismanagement we are making him look like he can't be arsed. 

I get the feeling that Mr Fardey would be happier if Duncan had upended somebody in the derby match?  That's the last thing we need right now - rather a radical change of tactics and some support for the beleaguered Scot (and I don't mean Smith or Knox) is what is called for.  I'm not holding my breath however...

Declan O'Shaughnessy



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