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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: BATE (A)

By Ken Buckley :  01/10/2009 :  Comments (40) :

Another away win as time and money ensured I watched this one in the company of ESPN and a few Blue mates.

The beer was cooled and we sat ready for another encounter which saw us down to the bare bones even before the news that Yobo had picked up a thigh strain in training and Hibbo was to be the makeshift centre-back kicked in. My initial thought that those who rate Hibbo less than favourably might be in for a field day was soon dispelled as he produced the sort of display that only ‘one of us’ can deliver when the chips are down for the team.

The commentator did little to lift our spirits as he continually reminded us of passed heroics by the BATE team in last season’s CL league encounters with Juve and the like. But on a cold rain swept night in old Russia past performance is no indicator of how this game would pan out. We laid bets on the score, mine was for a 3-1 win and hell I reckon I was close.

In a first half that I thought we looked the more composed of the two sides saw Bilyaletdinov hit a post and Cahill somehow make a right pig’s ear of a quite easy chance, his body language and mouthing’s seemed to suggest he agreed with my assessment. In between these efforts, from a BATE attack which seemed no more constructive than any other, saw Cahill charge down a cross that went some 25yds away from goal only for their No 2 to connect so sweetly that if we had three keepers in the goal would have stood, in fact a wonder strike.

Although I had thought we had been on top, nothing prepares you for such a strike and like the fans the players had to accept that we were 1-0 down without a real effort on our goal until that moment and the only answer was not to feel sorry for yourself and keep plugging away. This we did and despite giving the ball away cheaply at times due to some poor passing we continued to look that bit classier than BATE.

Due to our injuries Cahill was a makeshift Osman on the right flank and did not give Gosling the cover and help he needed probably due to the fact his game is more of a foreword one. Bate caught on to this and Gosling was given a working over at times, thank goodness for the alert Hibbert on quite a few occasions in rescuing dicey situations. Just before the break we saw Jo being carried off on a stretcher and the ‘Oh no’ not another one shout went up.

Second half started with Jo restored to fitness and would you believe the Blues still in Fulham and Pompey mode as they seemed to drop deep and allow BATE to come at us which was not going down as well as the brew with our motley crew.

BATE attacked and we were not clearing properly and the ball kept coming back, the fact that Howard was not unduly troubled was down to the excellent Hibbert, Distin and Fellaini who between them eventually stemmed the tide and the Blues took a little more control and a few joined up moves broke out that seemed to unsettle BATE and give confidence to our players to the extent of giving Cahill, Osman and Bilyaletdinov the courage to try to get forward and service the front two better.

This came to fruition when we were awarded a free kick which Baines, who was now becoming more influential after a sticky start, delivered a great free kick to the far post, we had a bit of luck, BATE had inexplicably ignored the six and a half foot Fellaini at the back post and his downward header put us level. Relief yes but also a belief that we could win, this seemed to course through the players and we kept BATE on the back foot as our passing got a bit better in such horrible conditions and even with the odd aberration we believed.

Then just before the 80min mark the improved Baines put in another good cross that Bilyaletdinov headed into the path of Cahill who met it on the half volley and looped the ball over the keeper into the net. Oh happy day.

BATE had to respond but such was our resolve we only had to endure a shot poked wide and one deflected wide in a spell that saw them attack but our ever dependable rearguard held firm. Young Agard joined the fray a couple of minutes after the goal and he ran and ran with much prompting from the manager whose voice was most audible, he then introduced Baxter as the run down the clock sub for Bilyaletdinov, then Agard’s enthusiasm saw him booked.

Overall I thought that despite our obvious handicap regarding missing players the bookies odds making us 6th favourites for this cup may have to be revised a little.

I thought the manager did well with his tactics and non better than when at 1-1 in the second half he put Jo wide left Bilyaletdinov wide right and pushed Cahill on with the Yak, won us the game I reckon.

We had some debate regarding MotM but in the end all agreed to share it between Hibbert, Distin and Fellaini who had been the bedrock to keep them out, keep us together and to ensure the rest of the team responded to their spirit.

Stoke Sunday and tonight’s game and performance will mean little except in terms of confidence so we can all look forward to quite a different game, different personnel and different problems to overcome but a win is all important as we go into the two week break. Much is made of our scraping of odd goal wins without playing that great by some but with our current set up and injury problems the silky stuff may have to wait a while and whilst this may be frustrating just think 32 more one-nil scrappy wins would see us champions.

See you Sunday
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Derek Thomas
1   Posted 02/10/2009 at 05:38:04

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Thanks again Ken for the report and one of your comments has ( unwittingly ?? ) re-enforced my thoughts, put down on Marshy’s recent post and other places as well...’ I thought the manager did well with his tactics and none better than at 1-1 when he pushed Jo wide left and Bily. right... the thought being that unless forced by circumstances beyond his control ie the bare 11 ( forget the subs, make weights to a man, well almost ) He, Moyes, will always go defensive, it seems to be in his nature, so anyway, it proves he can do it when required... more of the same Davy, he who dares Rodders, he who dares.
Ajay Gopal
2   Posted 02/10/2009 at 06:27:32

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Unbelievably, I got to see my 3rd consecutive live Everton game here in Bangalore.
The weather conditions were atrocious (on the pitch, I mean) - and clearly the team which was playing with the wind and rain on their backs were dominating posession - Everton in the 1st half and BATE in the 2nd. But strangely, all the goals came against the run of play !

Anyway, fantastic result, and Moyes can probably afford to relax a bit in the Europa.

Player ratings: Everybody deserves a 7, at least, with Distin, Baines, Fella and Billy probably getting an 8 each in my books, and good old Hibbo getting a 9 and a MotM.

Gosling was really struggling to maintain his footing on the slippery surface, but otherwise I thought OK.
Osman covered the ground but really saw little of the ball, except 1 sublime piece of skill in the 2nd half, which saw him pass the ball to Jo, but was hacked away in time by one of BATE’s men.

It was also good to see that Moyes was almost constantly on the touchlines, enduring the cold and rain to egg on the lads. Well done!

As Lyndon mentioned in another thread, on some days, the result matters more than the performance, and it was a great result from a brave (if less skillful) peformance.

Hopefully, we will have more bodies ready in time for the Stoke game. COYB !!
John Andrews
3   Posted 02/10/2009 at 06:42:24

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Ken, Any thoughts on why Lucas Neill was not considered for the centre back role ?
I saw the game but missed the subs bench and who was on it.
Peter Bourke
4   Posted 02/10/2009 at 06:41:24

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Good sumation ken.
I thought in the second half we really struggled to string two passes together and Bate controlled the ball much better. having said that we did what we had to do to win and there’s no point in complaining about the quality of play given the conditions and personel at our disposal.
It’s an "A" on the report card last night imo.
Peter Bourke
5   Posted 02/10/2009 at 06:45:41

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John,
I think you have to name your total squads for the tourney some weeks before it started and because Lucas wasn’t with us at that time he wasn’t named and is unavailable for selection. I could be wrong but i think thats why.
Stephen Kenny
6   Posted 02/10/2009 at 06:50:20

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Ken,

I think your’e being very kind to a few players in your report.

I thought Fellaini was terrible last night. For the Bate goal he strolled out to close the guy down as if he had all the time in the world. you can say it’s a wonder strike but at european level if you let teams shoot from the centre of the goal 20-25yards out they will score regularly.

Also Leon couldnt find a pass to save his life. time and time again he got bullied out of possession or rushed a pass that went nowhere. I’d like to see some of his fans on here defend him after that display in his favoured position.

On a positive note a good win against a team who are no mugs, and another win at home should see us through. Also good to see a young (hungry) player getting a bit of time in a game. Hopefully this will become the norm in games where we are out of sight.
Alan Rycroft
7   Posted 02/10/2009 at 07:11:22

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Dear All,
I can’t believe some of the negative comments. I am with Ajay, I thought the lads one and all were heroes. The conditions were truly atrocious a mud bath getting that way and driving freezing rain. The weather there makes Brit weather look positively wonderful! I never thought I would say that of any place! I would single out Dan Gosling and the Hibbo and Distin too. Fellaini was a key player and always stuck in, well taken goal in the wind and rain he could have missed it! My only reservation was Jo who ran around to no good effect really and looked outclassed but hardly natural conditions for a Brazilain, though he has played in Russia! Wehad a bit of luck too and the opposition was a very good if not a great team - their passing was better than ours. Yes, sometimes you just have to knuckle down and get througha game with a couple of breaks. Well done the Blues let’s keep it up and win the europa cup!
Dave Lynch
8   Posted 02/10/2009 at 09:13:19

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Hibbert was immense.
Ciarán McGlone
9   Posted 02/10/2009 at 09:38:38

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Firstly It was a superb result - a hell of a lucky result against the run of play - but that’s the rub of the cards..abnd about time we got some luck. ANd the weather looked like a pain in the arse as well..not to mention the grass looked like a meadow..

The playing staff was about as limited as it could be but there was some terrible football on display nonetheless...very little closing down, especially from the captain in the middle..and bad passing. Contrary to the above - at NO stage in the match did we dominate the play...It was simply hard to watch with misplaced passes, poor judgment and little in the way of creativity..Cahill, Osman and Fellaini gave the ball away constantly in the first half...which invited Bate on to us every time...The yak was dropping deep and that’s a worry - he should never drop deep simply because he should be on the last defenders shoulder..and for the other reason that he’s a terrible footballer with the ball at his feet..he’s a goal scorer and I don’t care if he’s lazy - in fact I want him to be lazy...

Jo yet again proves me right on his ability..he has none. Billy made mistakes too - giving the ball away needlessly when not under pressure but was our most creative player until switched to the right to protect Gosling..As for Gosling, very shaky - but then again you have to factor the Cahill effect into that..

As for our two centre halves - simply excellent..Distin was solid and Hibbert was exceptional....Ive stated on the other thread that if Hibbert was a couple of inches taller he be a legend centre half and a captain. Big applause for that lad...

In the end it was a superb result but very hard to watch...but then again it was a less than inspiring line-up...

Job Done.

Dave Wilson
10   Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:08:15

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Job Done indeed. That's three positions Hibbert has played in a week and he done well in them all. Michael Tracey must be choking on his corn flakes, lol.
Ciarán McGlone
11   Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:22:32

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The height issue aside - Hibbert in centre half, in retrospect now seems like a no brainer....

In my opinion, Hibbert's a better defender than Yobo... and maybe even Jags (who I still concede has a tendency to turn his back on strikers).... and last night Hibbo made some great passes out of centre defence... something that Jags doesn’t have in his locker at all.

It’s an interesting one... I’d play him there again on Sunday... with Heitinga on the right... that way Hibbo can mop up any mistakes Heitinga may make... and we’ll have Heitinga’s range of passing on the right...

As I say... Interesting...
Jonathan Tasker
12   Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:37:28

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I found it hard to believe how good Hibbert was.

Crap full back becomes great central defender.
Kev Bracey
13   Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:57:25

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John: Lucas was cup tied, hence Hibbo.

The match thread yesterday should be book marked or framed by anyone who wants to communicate the essence of what it means to be a true evertonian: self-doubt and loathing on the part of many commenters/fans. determination and job done from the players. Get Behind The Lads. COYB.
Sam Morrison
14   Posted 02/10/2009 at 12:04:50

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I don’t think Hibbert is a crap full-back, to put the revelations above into perspective. Limited, yes, but incredibly determined and actually very good defensively.

We all agree he isn’t great in possession, but I think it’s unfair to back up the surprise at his central-defensive performance by repeating ad nauseum how supposedly shit he is at RB. He’s not. On this I’m in rare accord with Ciarán...
Dave Wilson
15   Posted 02/10/2009 at 12:01:41

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Good prompt Kev, match threads are usually huge fun . . . the day after the match.
On a serious note, Its good to know Hibbert can do a central defence job if the need becomes desperate, but it does really have to be a last resort, I suspect he would be found out very quickly on Sunday When Rory started throwing his Bombs.
Roger Trenwith
16   Posted 02/10/2009 at 12:11:27

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Another great summary Ken. I was beginning to think i was watching a different game to every one else on the match thread last night!
I watched the game last night on the internet, and as usual had a split screen with the Toffeeweb match thread. The constant flow of whining negativity on the thread was as predictable for this site as it was depressing. When any team is missing half its first choice members they are not going to win games by playing flowing attractive football, particularly on a terrible pitch. A ground out win was what was needed and deserved.

Anyone who would rather see us lose 5-4 playing like Brazil than winning 2-1 by whatever means necessary needs their heads testing IMO.
Finally, the much (unjustly) maligned Tony Hibbert put in a MotM performance last night. Let’s hear the glass-so-empty-it’s-still-on-the-shelf types give some credit where it’s due for a change.

David Hallwood
17   Posted 02/10/2009 at 12:51:18

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This witch hunt against Hibbo has got to stop, granted his distribution veers between comical and appalling, however defenders defend and he has been 1/4 of a back four that has been one of the best outside of the sky 4, how many backs to the wall 1-nills have we seen in the Moyes era? Some of the posters think Hibbo must be the worst player ever to put the blue shirt on, and if that's the case they haven’t watched Everton very long.
Peter McHugh
18   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:12:54

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Look, Hibbo played excellently last night and in my view man of the match. However, I don’t think there is a "witch hunt" against the player — we all think he tried hard, but last few seasons he has been very poor in my view culminating in the cup final when the occasion seemed to much for him.

Again, I repeat he played great but I’m not going to get carried away and say he is suddenly a great player because I don’t think he is, infact I think he’s one of the worst players in the league — sorry but there you go.

I actually think he has been playing better this season but I sill think he’s a poor right back and should be replaced if Heitinga is up to the job (we need to give him time but so far not convinced) or by Neill once fit and I think Neville’s best position for us is right back and he does a competent job there, a lot better than Hibbert.

Sam Morrison
19   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:28:10

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Peter, I think I’m right in saying Tony played with an injury in the final and got carded early on, making him hesitant about tackling Malouda. I agree he wasn’t at his best - and should have been replaced earlier in fact - but I don’t think we can or should judge him on that game.
Dave Brierley
20   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:24:17

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Good report as always Ken. Fellaini being my only difference with you. I have to agree with Stephen Kenny as I thought for a high percentage of the game he was very poor and quite a few promising moves broke down as a consequence of his lazy play. I still think he has a part to play and may just be a late developer. Also the conditions did play a big part in this and like others I thought Hibbo was immense. Cometh the hour and all that.

One final point, I watched the match while looking at the TW thred and like Roger I couldn’t believe the vitriol almost from the kick off. So many negative views considering we were down to the bare bones. Great result.
Peter McHugh
21   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:39:13

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Sam, I’m not judging him on one game - the complete opposite in fact to many who are justifying their opinion on Hibbert simply because he was outstanding last night.
Dave Wilson
22   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:43:34

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AND last week against Pompey AND when he was asked to play left back before that AND against Wigan AND... fuck me, has any one played better than TH this season?
Peter McHugh
23   Posted 02/10/2009 at 14:00:43

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Dave, your interpretation of the word outstanding is obviously different to mine. How on earth you think he was outstanding in those games is beyond me. I do not believe you seriously think TH has been best player this season — I could roll off several names, but not to get embroiled further, I’ll give you one: Saha.
Ciarán McGlone
24   Posted 02/10/2009 at 14:10:29

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Tony Hibbert has been the most consistent performer this season.

Discuss...
Dave Wilson
25   Posted 02/10/2009 at 14:36:19

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Peter, I wouldn't argue with Saha, but he did miss a very easy chance against Wigan which TH put on a plate for him.

Oh and he also missed a penalty at Burnley.
Dave Wilson
26   Posted 02/10/2009 at 14:39:06

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LOL Come to think of it . . . . Hibbert won the fucken penalty too ! ! !
Ciarán McGlone
27   Posted 02/10/2009 at 14:41:29

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Lets not talk about him winning [sic] that penalty...

Stewart Littler
28   Posted 02/10/2009 at 15:04:14

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I don’t understand where some people are getting that we were lucky last night, or that we won against the run of the game.

I thought we were extremely unlucky to be behind at half time: it’s not like we backed off and let the opposition work the ball into an area to have a go from long range (a la Lampard in the Cup Final) - it was a ricochet into the middle of the park, and 99 times out of a 100, it ends up in row Z. Add to that Bilyaletdinov’s effort, which was well worked, hitting the post, and we really should have been ahead.

In the second half, admittedly, we struggled to keep possession, but I think BATE came out with the intent of getting the 2nd and clinching the game, and in fairness, whilst they enjoyed more possession for 20 mins or so, they created little. We then scored 2 good goals and showed our superior quality, and then withstood the inevitable late barrage, which a headed chance going 5 yards over aside, was done with considerable comfort. In summary, I think we absolutely deserved the win, and whilst better teams may have given us a bigger challenge, some people need to get over themselves.

We’ve now gone 5 games unbeaten, winning them all and scoring 14 goals, with only a wonder strike in reply. Most of those wins have been discredited by some on here, as the opposition were so poor that ’really it doesn’t count’. So how did such a poor Athens beat what most of us would consider a decent Benfica side? Ditto Blackburn, who beat Villa at the weekend. Yes, we do have to play better against the sterner challenges which will come later this month and next. Yes, we still have players who are not performing anywhere near the level they should be (Osman & Jo particularly last night).

But give credit where it’s due, when it’s due. Like to Hibbert, who played well last night. Like to Cahill, who did what we pay him to when it mattered, despite a piss poor game from him. Like to Moyes, who’s tactical switch gave the side more balance, and lead to us grabbing the win. And to the team as a whole, who coped with the loss of an entire team of players in difficult circumstances, and still came away with the win.
Ciarán McGlone
29   Posted 02/10/2009 at 15:30:19

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’I don’t understand where some people are getting that we were lucky last night, or that we won against the run of the game.’

------------------------------

They’re probably getting that idea from the fact that the opposing team had the majority of possession — and played a decent passing game down our right side — whereas we simply kept conceding possession... For the entirety of the game.
Peter McHugh
30   Posted 02/10/2009 at 16:50:54

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Good point,s Dave.

I’m made up and proud we beat that team last night, it was a show of resiliance and under Moyes we have been resiliant. I actually think we’ve played good football under Moyes when Arteta’s fit and looking forward to when bily Arteta and Pienaar all fit. I’m not super critical of him or his regime but I don’t think he’s perfect either.

I want and demand more progress under moyes this year (as I’m sure he does too of the team) in terms of football we play. Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.
Phil Roberts
31   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:08:09

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Hibbert at Centre Half against Stoke? No Way!

The great bit about last night was Distan picked up the high balls and Hibbert did the rest (dare I mention Hibbert in the same breath as Bobby Moore? ;-) ). But Stoke only have one way of attacking — lob it up there.

Against teams who play it on the ground — Hibbert yes. Against teams like Stoke — NO!

But finally, last night, he was superb and showed why he has been a first choice RB in a top 6 side for the last 4 years. Not one of the top 4 RBs in the Premier League but I would rather him that about 12-15 others.
Stephen Baines
32   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:35:10

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I think Hibbert is a great defender, as in he defends. We all know he isn't that good going forward, but he isnt a wingback ie Johnson or Bosingwa. I would rather have a defender that defends than one that runs up and gets caught out a lot like Johnson.

What would be good is if the Editor could put a vote on this site. Is Hibbert a good defender or not, remember he is not a wingback he is there to defend.

Stephen Baines
33   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:39:12

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I think we had a great 1st half, but poor 2nd half. I also think everyone that knocked us when we beat AEK Athens, they can't be that bad they beat Benfica last night. And before people knock BATE Borisov they have drew with Juventus. It was a great win and were top of the league COYB.
Keith Glazzard
34   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:30:03

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A good thing about the way this game was won is that Moyes was forced to play Tony Hibbert at CB, knowing that Gosling would do a good job at RB — which he did. Moyes has said today that he didn’t know Hibbo could play like that. Well, now he does. Incidentally, I’ll bet TH surprised himself a bit as well.

In future Euro, Carling (how many?) and possibly FA Cup games, this could be useful.

PL? Not impossible. And could Hibbert play in front of the back 4 in the Carsley role? Not impossible.

Best of all last night — Moyes went from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 during the second half to play to our strengths (Cahill where he should be, for example) and threaten their weaknesses. 0 - 1 went to 2-1 soon after.

Another good night in Europe. Not that it's any of our business of course, but has anyone mentioned that Fiorentina had a decent night themselves this week?
Aiden Doyle
35   Posted 02/10/2009 at 19:39:23

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Erm, Ciarán, you do realise that a trip to Specsavers is in order, right? Check out the lower part of this link (you’ll probably need to click on the “Show team line-ups and match stats” bar too):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/8281597.stm

Maybe, just maybe, Stewart didn’t “understand where some people are getting that we were lucky last night, or that we won against the run of the game” because over the course of the match Everton actually had MORE of the possession than their opponents. They also managed to get more shots on target than BATE, so it’s not entirely fortunate that more of their attempts actually crossed the line.
John Hall
36   Posted 02/10/2009 at 20:42:22

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Hello everyone, first time-poster here. I always read your posts first, Ken, very balanced and always inspire the ’right’ kind of debate — about football on the pitch. Okay, so that’s my point of view, I just love our team so much and want what’s best for them, a true optimist!

I have have a point a make though. Having looked at the squad last night, it got me thinking, who exactly is in the final 25 list for Europe this year? I have a feeling that the crocks were not included, so Moyes hedged his bets and filled the list with kids.

Here’s what I think the list was:

Nash, Hibbert, Baines, Yobo, Bily, Saha, Jo, Turner, Vaughan(?), Distin, Cahill, Neville, Gosling, Pienaar, Osman,Yak, Howard, Fellaini, Rodwell, Duffy, Agard, Baxter, Wallace, Mustafi, Akpan.

If I’m right, Moyes is far more of a risk-taker than you think!

Keith Glazzard
37   Posted 02/10/2009 at 21:10:00

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Ciarán: I was going to suggest something similar — but considerably more respectfully than Mr Doyle has just done — about the ’official statistics’ of this game. Bily’s aim at the far post was wonderfully accurate and Tim missed from six yards. We had to be doing something right.

I dislike the use of the term hoofball. Far too often last night the hopeful long pass happened, and predictably we lost possession. But our players are good. They overcame.

Even better, our manager switched from 4-4-2 (very rarely a good option) to 4-5-1 (except, as we know, that isn’t what it really is) at about 65 minutes. Possibly the boldest thing Moyes has ever done during a game. And it worked like magic.

They were a good ’Russian’ side. AEK beat Benfica last night. We don’t lose easily and often do much better. We are making progress, painfully at times, but it is there.

And Fiorentina — remember them? — had a good night in Europe this week. Someone on this site recently said that they were a nothing side. Bring them on then.
Dick Fearon
38   Posted 02/10/2009 at 22:53:54

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Keith Glazzard, so Moyes did not know Hibbert could do such a good job at CB eh? Seems to me that dire need has been the catalyst for other of DMs ’brilliant’ positional changes.

Mikel to centre mid, Cahill’s more attacking role, Rodwell to the mid field and Lescott to left back. Had it not been for desperate circumstance those changes may never have happened. Not all such moves come off. Take the case of Osman. To the delight of his many fans he was played at centre mid against Bate. Sadly was bloody awful in that spot too.

Ian Adams
39   Posted 03/10/2009 at 12:08:09

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Good assessment Ken.

I like most watched on TV and as with my season ticket in the Park End, my view of Jo was restricted — unlike Moysie, who must see something that I don't?

I don't wish to be negative on an impressive performance but our Number 11 spends most of the game clapping the passes he never anticipates!

Still good work by the rest!!
Ciarán McGlone
40   Posted 03/10/2009 at 16:50:44

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Aiden,

Fair enough, we may have had more possession — but there was absoluely no comparison in the quality of possession... They were head and shoulders above us in terms of their quality of play — That’s why our win was against the run of play...

If you can’t see that then I’m afraid glasses won’t help you...

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