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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From My Seat: Sigma (h)

By Ken Buckley :  20/08/2009 :  Comments (12) :

On a night when off-the-field happenings had overshadowed our quest to progress in the Europa league, many who assembled were as intent on talking about our mauling by Arsenal and the manager's stance regarding Lescott as well as dire trading in the transfer market.

None of this have fans any control over but the outcome of such events mean so much to us all and come the window closing then whatever dealings have taken place will no doubt determine our perception of events yet to unfold.

All knew Lescott was out and most had it right that Neville would be the makeshift centre-back and the fledgling Rodwell given the holding role and in attack Saha replaced Jo and all three were to have a great influence on the game.

The game started and after no more than two minutes I made two observations, firstly the opposition looked to be League two or lower Championship at best and Everton had quite a hangover from Saturdays mauling and looked jittery in dealing with no more than enthusiastic attacks.

Opposition attacks brought a couple of penalty shouts but little else except the final one when the opposing forward was booked for diving as Howard spread himself after rushing out.

The opposition's lack of real class and the managers prowling of the technical area slowly settled nerves and the much maligned Osman started to influence a few things by picking a couple of passes to players in the same colour shirt and a couple of shots that went over and one forcing a save.

Then just on the half hour mark Fellaini made his first real contribution by turning his man on the by-line and his low cross found Saha taking a leaf from the Andy Gray School of thought by gambling and getting across the keeper at the near post and diverting the ball home, cue delight and relief.

This settled us somewhat and some passages of joined up stuff took place which paid dividends some seven minutes later when a promising move was halted by a foul, Baines took the kick and it was cleared to some twenty yards out to Rodwell who smashed in a shot that troubled the net and sent the crowd into rapturous applause, the young man wheeled away in absolute delight. The half ended with a shot from Pienaar that was straight at the keeper.

H/T and it was as different again as the half time chat from Saturday. A mate txt me to say he sits by the press box and during the first half he saw on a monitor a shot of Lescott making the same sort of V sign that got Barry Ferguson into trouble, if so shame on the man.

Second half and you could just see that the team had been talked to regarding their hesitancy of the first period and were now going about their work with more confidence and purpose and were rewarded some ten minutes in when another Baines free kick fell to Pienaar who slid a square pass to Rodwell who again thumped a 25 yarder past the keeper. Not long after Rodwell took a knock that saw stretchers called for but he was able to hobble off to the touchline unaided and soon rejoined the fray much to the relief of all assembled. Sigma almost allowed his hat trick by not learning the lesson of leaving him unattended when Cahill slid the ball into his path and another 25 yarder just missed with keeper scrambling.

By now the Blues were in complete control and with the Czechs dispirited some fifteen minutes from time another joined up move saw Osman play a true ball to the feet of Saha with his back to goal, he twisted, turned and held off at least three defenders to whip a left footed daisy cutter passed the keeper. 4-0 surely we will have Euro nights this season.

Rodwell was subbed, surely a precaution, and left the field to a rapturous ovation. Osman went into his role and I have to say looked the better for it and dictated things albeit against a now dispirited Sigma. Gosling took his place in a procession that saw Jo for Saha and Wallace for the underperforming Pienaar and the Blues saw out a victory that says they need FIVE to put us out in the away leg, surely even Everton can’t oversee such a calamity.

Overall I thought after a sticky confidence lacking start we deserved the victory and 4-0 suggests Aberdeen can’t be that great. I thought the opposition poor but you must beat what’s before you to progress.

Burnley next and will new faces have appeared on the back page of Post and Echo?. The Russian seems possible let’s hope he is ‘Son of Kanchelskis’.
So many rumours and exclusives from the media and yet I doubt anyone not privy to the boardroom meetings has a clue how we will look come Sept 2nd.
I suspect the sulking Lescott will still be with us unless City act like other ‘Big clubs’ and meet the asking price.

Until then treat him like a naughty child and send him to his room until he realises it may be in his best interest to come down and continue with normal family life.
Whatever happens- happens and most of us will be there to see the rest of the season out and go through the ringer of emotions that accompany every season, good, bad or indifferent and all will have their say. It’s great being an Evertonian, never a dull moment on or off the field.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Anthony Newell
1   Posted 21/08/2009 at 07:34:09

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Just goes to show that Osman excels when against League two or lower Championship!!!
Richard Jones
2   Posted 21/08/2009 at 07:30:05

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Ken, As usual a brilliant and considered piece of writing, I always look forward to reading your account of the match. Of course you are right it is never dull being an Evertonian and what is to be will be. One thing is for sure all true Evertonians will support our great team whatever happens because it’s in our blood. I hope we can sign a few good players before the end of the window and for what it’s worth I think DM should let Lescott go if he is not committed to the cause.
Here’s to going through the whole gambit of emotions, unbridled joy to the depths of despair, COME ON YOU BLUES.
Ciarán McGlone
3   Posted 21/08/2009 at 07:41:29

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I thought Osman was average, still misplacing passes and making unforced errors; he was a little better in the middle but certainly not good enough for a stating place in that position.

As was Fellaini — I’m getting quite worried about him; his approach to the game is somewhat absurd. He doesn’t close down, makes late passes leaving other players under pressure, loses the ball, is rather clumsy, and generally looks lost. He needs a good kick up the arse.

Pienaar was also slightly off his game last night as well... some sloppy stuff — but then again there was also some good stuff.

Cahill was quiet but he’s being played out of position even though Fellaini was dropping deep too.

Anyway, that’s the few bads points there was... now for the accolades.

Baines was superb — some great runs and crossing... Hibbert was also great — involved in nice triangles and passing it along the ground when he could; also defensively solid.

Saha looks like a £30mill striker... the guy is outstanding. Can run with the ball and can put it in the net from anywhere. (Hopefully the Yak will have problems getting his spot back.)

Neville did well at the heart of defence as did Yobo... although I don’t know how comfortable Nev would be against better opposition, but at least he’s earned the opportunity to show us.

And Rodwell... still a few things to learn, can maybe take one too many touches... or misplace his passing... but my god what a shot the boy has — something we’ve been seriously lacking over the last number of years — someone prepared to have a crack from 40 yards. He’ll come on more with Arteta and possibly another centre mid in front of him.

Jo also looked decent (if a little flashy) when he came on but I don’t think he’s got much chance of displacing Saha.

All in all, a mood-lifter... and certainly the sort of result we needed to blow away those dark clouds.

Joleon who?

Steve Carter
4   Posted 21/08/2009 at 09:00:05

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Your rating of the oppo’s overall standard, Ken? ’League 2 or lower Championship’ as Anthony suggests?
Steve Edwards
5   Posted 21/08/2009 at 09:08:17

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Thank fuck for that! A much needed result thats lifted some of the gloom. I think that Pienaar is carrying an injury and according to Sky is a doubt for the Burnley game, which is a worry. Rodwell is also a doubt. I honestly feel that the sooner we get shut of Lescott now the better. I’ll be glad to see the back of him. If we can get a couple or so players of the right quality in then things will be looking up.

Rodwell has showed signs of his shooting ability recently and his two goals will have given him confidence. Let's hope it's two of many to come and I quite agree — it's something that we’ve lacked.
Andy Morden
6   Posted 21/08/2009 at 09:10:16

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I can't disagree with much of what has been said by Ken and other contributors. Nice couple of strikes by Jack, but he was aided a bit by the ’keeper on the first who made a hash of it — I was sat right behind the goal in the Park end and he dived away from the shot! Still, as Ciarán points out, we don’t have a dig from distance often enough as a team — fortune favours the bold etc...

I was really impressed with Saha last night, the man looks a) fit and b) on a mission. He was chasing down and harrying last night. Not to mention his involvement in build-up play and goals Such a difference from last season when it looked like he was scared to break into a run. A man with a point to prove, not least to himself.

Fellaini is such a frustrating player. He loses the ball when it seems easier to find his man or not be tackled and on other times he’ll produce a turn, slight of foot or pass when he seems certain to lose possesion. Room for improvement.
Bernt Hellman
7   Posted 21/08/2009 at 09:46:38

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Ken, as always you are spot on. Does anyone else agree with me that Ken always summarises the worries/joys/frustrations/delights (that our enigmatic club provides us with on a daily basis) better than enyone else? We truly have to experience every known emotion in order to follow our team!
Chris Matheson
8   Posted 21/08/2009 at 09:52:08

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This was a great result and it was nice to see goals being scored from shots rather than high balls humped hopefully into the box. Aided by the keeper or not - and Andy may be correct - you still have to have the shots to make him save or miss.

That said, Sigma were on top for the first third and we looked ropey at times in defence. By the end of the game our passing and movement had improved but for much of the first half and even into the second we were passing too short, to feet not to space, and resorting to long high balls. There was insufficient movement to create space, and Saha - whose effort all night was fantastic - often looked isolated, with the midfield 20 yards or more behind him. I hope that this result and the improved performance later in the game with give the team back some confidence to up their game at Burnley.

One final point: Pip Neville is often derided for his technical ability, and he isn’t a centre back, but his contribution to the team in being able to play several positions competently gives our tiny, threadbare, Kenwrightist squad real cover, and he is to be applauded for this.
Ajay Gopal
9   Posted 21/08/2009 at 12:59:42

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Great report, Ken. I always turn to your report after a game - much better and more informed than the BBC or SkySports. I wonder where Santosh Benjamin - the other "(TV) Match Reporter" and fellow Indian Blue is nowadays?

Ken, from you report and the other reports (BBC, Sky, etc) and the Matchday Thread on TW, I have some comments:

Saha has been the standout peformer so far. And long may he continue to smash the goals.

Pienaar is our most creative mid-fielder now - Moyes would love to put him in the middle, but who would man the flanks?

Rodwell is the next "big thing" to come out of the famed Everton Academy — the problem for small-monied clubs like Everton is how do we keep hold of our most prized assets? I suspect the only way is to offer European football on a regular basis and match the absurd wages being splashed around (Ashley Cole on £120k/wk???) = BIG MONEY INVESTOR.

Cahill seems to be strangely subdued so far this season — strange, considering he smashed 2 goals for the Ozzies last week.

Baines, Fella, Yobo seem to have picked themselves up after the Arsenal disaster.

Some very appreciative comments about Hibbo — the ’White Cafu" as somebody put it. Even against Arsenal I noticed that he was pretty nifty with his footwork, and once actually out-dribbled Arshavin inside our penalty box. Needs to remember though that his first and foremost responsibility is defending, and that is what he is good at (used to be one of the best tackling Right Backs).

By all accounts, Osman started influencing Everton’s moves, once he moved inside. That is his best position, but unfortunately, the absence of wide players meant that he has been played out of position for more than a season now. And when Arteta is back, and we have a good wide player, there is simply no place for him in our preferred starting XI. More than a useful squad player in my opinion — especially as pointed out by some unkind poster, against lower grade opposition.

Yobo needs somebody commanding beside him — he does not dominate the defence, Lescott is simply not up to being his partner in defence — the two of them communicate very poorly. If Yobo plays, he needs Jagielka or Neville next to him.

Neville — the more you think about it, the more you realise how important he is to Everton. A fantastic servant of the club — no frills, dogged, loyal — a typical old-fashioned English player.

Fella is still struggling to figure out his role in the team. He needs some ball players around him, which he has been missing for some time, and then I think we will see his quality.

Any comments about Vaughany? He seems to be making very little impact in the games recently?

Gosling may well get a start if Pienaar and Rodwell are out of the game. He looks sharpish, again in a more central role. That is the problem now at Everton - a plethora of centre mid-field players, but no genuine wingers.

Moyesey says that he will buy at least 4 players, I am hoping at least 2 of them are wide players. Petrov and the Russian dude would do fine for me. (NOT Elm please — the guy seems so arrogant even before he has kicked a single ball in the Premier League — god help us if he becomes half successful).

If Pienaar and Rodwell are unavailable for Sunday, I am afraid that the team would look like this:

Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Neville, Baines, Gosling, Osman, Fellaini, Cahill, Jo, Saha (Yes, 4-4-2 actually!)

Subs: Vaughan, Baxter, Nash and a bunch of other kids.

Nick Veitch
10   Posted 22/08/2009 at 02:21:50

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Ajay, Cahill has been subdued because he’s been playing out of position. He scored for the Aussies playing in the supporting striker role. I just wish Moyes would play him in this position instead of him playing the true central midfield role. Then groom Fellaini over the next two seasons for this position.

I think it’s mainly due to the fact we have paid €15 million for Fellaini and Moyes would be grilled if he wasn’t in the starting line-up. He has to find a way to fit both players in and it means Cahill is pushed back. Moyes has a habit of trying to fit square pegs in round holes, ie, playing central midfielders out of position on the wing (Pienaar, Osman and Arteta previously).
Santosh Benjamin
11   Posted 22/08/2009 at 18:42:26

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Wonderfully written article as always,Ken. The opposition may not have been top class but we still needed to exorcise the demons after the opening day debacle.
Ajay, thanks for remembering me. Have been busy with work and so didnt get time to write about the first game. Hoping to be able to write about the Burnley game.So far from the first two games, i felt that Cahill and Fellaini were not doing well together.Neville slots in at any position where we have a need and is indeed a true servant of the club. Baines has continued where he left off last season. Saha has looked good to start whenever fit but Vaughan needs to play to get his fitness and confidence back.Like Ajay,I too loved the way someone described Hibbo as the "White Cafu" after the Sigma game.
Its been a long summer and i spent every free minute at my computer - looking for signings. Now that time is running out, i hope that we get Banega,Taylor,the Russian winger and maybe another defender too. Lets get back to winning ways against Burnley and then win the return leg against Sigma convincingly...COYB
Keith Glazzard
12   Posted 22/08/2009 at 19:59:34

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Pienaar (please let him be injury free) is our best central midfield creative player till Mikel gets back or, we recruit better. So why is he being played out left? His wonderful combination with Baines recommends itself, but look at the ball he rolled back for Rodwell’s second.

Let me suggest a compromise. Jo as left mid in a 4141. This would line up as -

Howard
Hibbert Yobo Neville Baines
Rodwell
Cahill Fellaini Pienaar Jo
Saha

Osman, Gosling, Vaughan, Baxter and Wallace etc bench (not bad).

Not necessarily for the Burnley game - although it could work - but perhaps for the second leg.

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