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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Wigan (h)

By Ken Buckley :  30/08/2009 :  Comments (10) :

A very welcome three points from a game that will live very short in the memory. With two new signings putting a spring in the step of many who attended, we were treated to a mundane first half that could best be described as hopeful but in truth boring. We saw the outstanding Rodwell have a couple of long range efforts to give us hope.

Osman and Baines continued from Thursday and could best be described as willing but ineffective. Distin doing his best to fit in without making an error but you could see he will take time to settle; it has to be said he seemed to give Yobo a new lease of life and Joe was the better for it.

In fact,the half dragged and you got your moments from unlikely sources. The Wigan manager posted all half in the technical area sporting a pair of shoes that probably cost as much as a League Two player but the length of them suggested a water ski coach rather than a football coach. Our very own Davy caught up completely in the game, taking a hefty tackle from a Wigan player as he tried to return the ball quickly for a throw-in... still it brought half-time.

During the break, I was informed that the reason for Baines being poor of late is due to his grieving for the departure of Lescott as they roomed together. Oh dear, give me strength.

The second half continued in much the same mode with the Blues in control but with little to show in the cutting-edge department. The much maligned Hibbert put in a couple of Beckhamesque crosses that finishers such as Cahill and Saha should have profited from.

Baines and Osman showed no improvement and would you believe both were guilty of sloppiness on the 56-minute mark, in allowing the Wigan man room to put in a telling cross for our Wigan nemesis Scharner to stoop and conquer.

Those assembled were less than impressed and, after initially booing and catcalling, they broke into full voice behind the team; unfortunately it spurred Wigan more than us and within a couple of minutes they had hit the post.

Now concern echoed all around the ground, much ooeering and aahring seemed to galvanise the Blues more than songs and cheers. Hibbert again came forward and put in a cross that was deflected for a corner, this was the first of two instances that Baines was to become a hero, he put in a perfect corner that was glanced home by Saha and the goal greeted with much delight and a great dollop of relief.

Rodwell was the one player showing consistency and a range of passing that could well get us through but it took the substitution of Osman for Fellaini to really start to galvanise us.

Cahill moved out wide in Osman’s role allowing Fellaini to respond best to Rodwell’s prompting and at last we had a midfield of pace and power giving the faithful grounds for optimism, which was heightened further with the introduction of Jo for Saha and suddenly we were a proper power-packed team going for the throat. Did the benching of Fellaini and Jo give them a kick up the backside or did the manager make a mistake in the starting line-up?

We continued to press, shots by Jo, Rodwell, Fellaini all blocked or wide. A superb Hibbert cross squandered by a poor header from Cahill. At last a breakthrough, Jo powered past his man and in on goal, his marker slid from behind upending Jo giving the ref little option but to point to the spot. Cue Baines to make his second contribution to the match by blasting the pen into the net and in the process clouding many minds regarding his overall contribution.

Bilyaletdinov was introduced to the fans for the last three mins plus 4 mins of added time. To me he looks as though he needs a few weeks with the lads at Finch Farm to get used to the Everton way and then let's see.

We continued to press with confidence now, too much confidence really, as Wigan thwarted another attack and broke with great pace and we had that heart-stopping moment as you see seven Wigan players flying toward two Blue defenders and a keeper. The fact that they did not capitalize had Martinez tearing at his hair. Still, anything they could do, we could as well and Jo was sent through at pace, encountering a one-on-one he contrived to hit the post.

The ref blew up after 4 mins of added time and left all relieved and singing.
My MotM: Rodwell. The club may as well gamble a bit on getting money for new players as in Rodwell they have a player who is worth bigger bucks than Lescott and in my mind it won’t be long before a rich club will test the club’s and Rodwell’s resolve.

Overall I thought a very relieving three points, off the bottom, a game not to overanalyze as we are what the manager said we are, a team under-prepared. The last few hours of transfer window appear to offer us at least two more players to either convince us or otherwise the team will still take some time to bed in and gel, as well as the manager having to make his mind up on our best starting eleven. There is always a big difference in having a starting line-up forced on you rather than having to make decisions.

As we go into the International break, enjoy the deadline midnight vigil and let’s hope we see a capable team with additional top international players playing the joined-up stuff and three more points at Fulham. We will see!.
See you there...

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Michael Kidd
1   Posted 31/08/2009 at 07:51:14

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I watched only the second half on TV, but I think Ken, as usual, is suitably objective and pretty accurate with his summary. Just a few comments — the Wigan attack where they had 5 on 2 came before the penalty, not after (as Ken seems to suggest).

And was the goal Osman’s fault (should have been tracking back) or Hibbert’s — who seemed to be marking nobody and looked up after the goal as if to ask who’s man Scharner was? Really amateur defending.

Rodwell was impressive, Hibbert was the best I’ve ever sen him going forward, but poor at the back (not only the goal but there was one clearance kick that went as far as my four-year-old daughter could kick) and I thought Neville was anonymous — Wigan had too much control of the midfield.

At the end of the day the most important thing is the three points, whether deserved or not, because it will begin to build confidence that will be improved by more signings.

David Ellis
2   Posted 31/08/2009 at 08:01:59

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Ken
Like you I find watching on TV very frustrating - but unlike you I am forced to watch only on TV (living overseas). Your reports are great because it gives a wider angle view than is possible from the TV screen.

In particular the off the ball running, marking, back tracking etc is all lost on TV and this is at least 50% of the game.

Rodwell looks great on the ball - reminds me of Paul Bracewell at his peak. But does he do the off the ball stuff? In particular does he position himself well and anticipate the moves of the opposition. I suspect that he still has to learn from Neville in this area.

I re-call in the first half two incidents that happened in quick succession that showed the superiority of Rodwell to Neville. In the first incident Neville picks the ball up in midfield with an opponent in close attendance. Without the skill or the confidence to turn forwards or make space for himself to pass forwards he passes the ball backwards diagonally to Hibbert. Hibbert ’s poor control immediately has him under pressure and the ball is given away in a dangerous area that would have been punished by a better side.

A few minutes later Rodwell is in exactly the same kind of position but controls the ball so well, easily makes light of the opponent trying to close him down and initiates the best move of the first half which eventually leads to Saha narrowly failing to slide it in.

The difference is night and day. We need central midfielders with this kind of touch - but has Jack the positional nouse of a Carsley or Neville - and can he be the protector of the back four on his own?

You can’t tell from watching on the TV - any views from match goers?
Bob Parrington
3   Posted 31/08/2009 at 08:47:19

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Hi Ken,

Thanks for the report. I was away at the Australian Ice Hockey League finals in Newcastle???? (New South Wales) and could not see the Everton game. Glad to say we (Adelaide Adrenaline) won the final against Newcastle (not the prison bars variety even with the heritage over here, ha! ha!), so it was a good night. Better still that we beat Wigan. What a relief.

it will be good to get the strong midfielder in the team and a good left back. we have a good attacking group to select from and I believe mid-field strength is the go for us now.

Thanks for the report. You write the reports so I feel like I’ve been at the ground.
Steve Hogan
4   Posted 31/08/2009 at 09:31:45

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If the manager succeeds in bringing in the two additional players he wants before 5pm on Tuesday, then he faces some difficult selection decisions.

Having finally decided that right-back IS a problem area, then that is fairly straightforward, but his midfield selection is I believe key to what the team will achieve this season.

Slowly but surely, Rodwell’s continuing influence on the team is growing week by week, already he’s making Neville look pretty ordinary.

That leaves Pienaar, Billy, Arteta, Neville, Osman, Fellaini and Cahill to occupy four spaces. This is of course, if he decides to play 4-4-2 at home with a fit Yak and Saha the first choice front two.

I felt we were outplayed by Wigan in midfield at times yesterday and the need to create more is painfully obvious.

Whilst Neville sometimes looks the part, his overall contribution to the game is minimal for the large part, will Moyes drop his captain when he has a greater choice of quality players available to him?

Time will tell.
Ajay Gopal
5   Posted 31/08/2009 at 09:26:51

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I was about to make the same comments as Michael Kidd but he beat me to it !

Some random thoughts and comments:

Cahill seemed to be playing with the glint in his eye again. Missed quite a few goal-scoring chances today - mainly last ditch blocks from the Wigan defenders who were awesome yesterday - but I suspect that he will start putting them in soon. The header from a delicious Hibbert cross (did I just say that!) was a bad miss, but I am happy that he is back in his best position and enjoying it.

Like Michael Kidd said, Hibbert seems to have been working very hard on his offensive side of the game, but at the expense of his defensive duties. If he gets both right, he could be more than a decent right-back. Overall, well done Hibbo.

Neville looked unsure of himself - and offered almost nothing going forward.

Rodwell was good and the commentator said that "he got better as the game went on", but there were some bad misses from him - one shot from the edge of the 18-yard which bobbled harmlessly wide and then, worse, in front of an open goal, he blazed wildly high. At least, somebody has started having a go from the edge of the box, and that gives the defenders something to think about.

All in all, like Ken said, an ovewhelming feeling of relief at the 3 points, than anything else. If we can get the Heitinga guy plus 1 of Banega/Bentley, it would not be a bad summer after all. COYB !!
Gavin Ramejkis
6   Posted 31/08/2009 at 12:22:29

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Got to point out something I’ve not read here or any other postings about Cahill, he was getting slaughtered by lots of supporters in the Park End yesterday but as I pointed out the lad is way out of his normal best position; just off the striker. He missed possibly the best cross of the game from Hibbert with his well wide header but kept his head up and at one a piece towards the end of the game during the repeated corners we won he was looking at the Park End screaming the team on grinning like a Cheshire cat, the lad was obviously spurred on by the vocal support.
Gary Mortimer
7   Posted 31/08/2009 at 09:59:45

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An important three points and a better performance by most of the boys. I decided to watch the highlights on MOTD2 (to confirm my suspicions on who was to blame for the Wigan goal) before posting.

What is the point of Osman? Why does Moyes continue to pick him? Yesterday he was woeful (only just about beating his performance in the Cup Final) – he was knocked off the ball every time he got it when he was marked, he gave the ball away cheaply when he was given time to control it, he continually marked Figueroa when we had the ball and was at fault for the goal 100%. Hibbert was marking Rodallega who had pulled to the far post, leaving Osman to pick up Scharner. Unfortunately he just stood and watched the Austrian score yet another goal against us. When Fellaini came on for him the difference was amazing – we finally had 11 players on the pitch. I still think Fellaini has a fair way to go to justify his price tag, perhaps dropping to the bench will provide the kick up the backside that he needs.

My ratings for what there worth -

Howard – 7 great save at the end to prevent them retaking the lead
Hibbert – 7 his best game for ages.
Baines – 6 some woeful free kicks in the first half – redeemed by the penalty.
Yobo – 7 looked far more comfortable with a partner who knew what he was doing.
Distan – 7 a good solid debut with no mistakes. Distribution ok as well.
Neville – 6 solid but unspectacular.
Rodwell – 7 another solid performance, should have scored when he blazed over though.
Osman – 3 not good enough.
Cahill – 6 lively but missed a couple of good chances.
Pienaar – 7 lively and creative.
Saha – 7 looking better with every game.

Subs
Fellaini – 6 did more in 20 minutes than Osman in 70.
Jo – 6 fluffed a couple of chances, but did well to get the penalty.
Billy – I think he touched it once.
Chris Jones
8   Posted 31/08/2009 at 13:38:47

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Something commented on by Pat Nevin on the radio, but not covered on MotD2 or here...

"The Wigan players are kicking everything that moves... and if it isn’t moving, they’re kicking it until it does."

Wigan also had 6 players booked - attracting an automatic fine for the club.

Nevin also remarked how, and while he has the biggest foul count against him...

"Fellaini must be the most fouled player in the Premier League... whenever he’s in the box the Wigan players [I now paraphrase] are tugging at and pushing him like nobody’s business... but the referee is simply ignoring it"
Owen de Asha
9   Posted 31/08/2009 at 18:12:14

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Reports like this are brilliant for two reasons:

The first being that if somebody who just watched MOTD and didn’t go to the game read this then they would a completely different picture painted for them. Having gone to the game, I felt that the first half, although many have deemed it boring, was full of promise and I could only see one team playing for three points. This, however, was not the view of the BBC apparently who showed all of 45 seconds of it.

The second reason is that it fuels debate amongst us Evertonians. I have to say that I completely disagree with those who think that Bainsey wasn’t performing until late into the second half as, from where I was sat, he didn't really put a foot wrong all game. Someone who did however, was Leon Osman. He just defies belief — how he has made it to be an established Premier League player is beyond me. I have said for a long time that he is one of the dead weights, holding us back from progressing towards the much sought after and elusive "fourth spot".

I will end on a promising note. Jack Rodwell is going to be absoultely brilliant one day, I just hope he’s still got a Royal Blue shirt on his back.
Ciarán McGlone
10   Posted 01/09/2009 at 09:43:35

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Neville back in midfield.

Cosmic.

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