COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
This game was sewn up in the first half although it took us a good 15 mins to come to grips with the 4-5-1 of Hull and impose our undoubted class in this encounter. Hull with King, Barmby (booed on all occasions) and Mendy trying to make it a three when they could attack had their game plan thrown into dis-array on the 20-min mark when a build-up down the left saw Pienaar and Baines swop passes and from the Baines cross, Fellaini glanced home much to the delight of all assembled.
From that point, Hull strived in a physical sense but meeting a rearguard of Hibbo, Jags, Lescott and Baines ensured Howard was a spectator. We were in no mood to give anything away and and went into 'get what we can when we can' mode. On 25 mins, Pienaar from the right hit a blind cross that had no Blue shirt in attendance. Cahill free down the left crossed for Fellaini to head wide when scoring would have been easier.
A frustrated Hull gave away free-kicks and none was more important than the one 25 yds out on the stroke of half time. Arteta stepped up and smashed a 25-yarder past the stationary keeper and you just knew that was it, all watched it again three times on the big screens and offered Arteta an ovation that would have done justice to a hat trick.
During the opening half, Fellaini had been given a final warning for persistent fouling by the Ref and many wondered during the break whether the manager may sub him or not. No changes as the teams emerge gives us the answer and just a few minutes in we get another answer. Fellaini booked for a soft foul but non the less a foul and under the Ref's totting up procedure a Yellow.
The crowd bayed, many blamed Moyes for not taking him off at half-time but I ask you 10 Yellows by January the 10th suggests to me that the man needs guidance on his approach to the game. Yes, he is only just 21, learning a new language in a new country and playing in a different class of league with its own unique style of play... but, hell — football is football, fouls are fouls, and although they may be interpreted differently in different countries, players who wish to stride the world stage take this on board and indeed soon know how to play the refs — no matter what country they are in. Our Mr Fellaini had better learn this pronto or forever be responsible for putting Manager, teamates and fans in the position he has engineered to date. With almost every coach at the club being a defender perhaps a few afternoons exclusive tuition on the wiles of the Prem may be well spent...
After the booking, the game became static with the Blues doing little to add to the scoreline and such was our dominance defence-wise, coupled with the woeful attempts at penetrating football from the visitors, the half dragged somewhat. Hull tried all three subs without changing anything.
On the hour mark Ossie broke with a man either side and with a goal looking a certainty he dallied long enough for Ashbee to dispossess him. Arteta had another free kick chance from similar distance but this one troubled Row kk in the Park End more than the keeper. Big Vic came on for Cahill but did little to suggest he should start in the Derby double header. Ossie shot well over, the whistle went and a pretty regulation three points were gained.
My man of the match was Arteta but I wouldn't argue with anyone nominating Hibbert, Jags, Lescott, Baines or Neville. On the other side, Pienaar seems in poor form at the moment and Big Vic just doesn't look the part for me.
Overall today I thought the manager got it mostly right as these three points were especially important considering the upcoming league games v Liverpool (a), Arsenal (h) and Man Utd (a). As our record against Champions League sides is not the best, it is possible for us to take no points from those games. However, with a fit and in-form squad of those available, a haul of just three points would be great any more than that a bonus.
At todays game I did have a moment of lightheartedness in witnessing their manager Brown strutting the technical area resplendent in the latest Mourinho gear whilst overseeing the doings of a Championship team in Prem clothing. Guess there is nothing like image over substance.
Liverpool in league and cup next and I am as confident as they are. See you there UP THE BLUES.
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