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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Benfica (H): Blunt throughout the field

By Paul Traill :  05/11/2009 :  Comments (14) :

Match Report:

With Gary sacrificing his ticket for a Super Furry Animals gig and Mike deciding he couldn’t take the ticket either after previously saying he could I graciously offered it to Idda, a mate from work. I wish I hadn’t. Idda, the lovely lad that he is, plays at a reasonable standard in Leigh and so sees himself as some sort of expert when watching football, persistently pointing out grave errors in our play. I don’t know what hurt more, that he wouldn’t shut up for the duration of the game or the fact that almost everything he said was correct.

The main thing he picked up on was the lack of heart in the team, that we weren’t chasing after the ball or marking players the way we should be. It was hard to argue. Yes, completely outclassed on the night, yes, injuries are taking their toll (not half), and yes, we had a couple of reasonable chances ourselves I guess... but overall, the play was dire, the passing was dire, and the heart just wasn’t there tonight.

At half-time I felt that if Moyes would get the message across that we just needed to be less sloppy in our play and a bit more focused on finding a blue shirt, we could take the points here. As it was, after an alright first half we just didn’t turn up for the second and Benfica thoroughly deserved the points. Fellaini, Baines and Cahill all let decent chances slip in the first period though really Benfica could have scored themselves when Cardoza headed against a post and then from the rebound Howard was forced into a world class save to keep them out. Half-time goalless but you felt slight optimism.

In the second period we just weren’t good enough. Passes went astray, communication just wasn’t there and there was an air of predictability about Saviola’s opener after yet more sluggish defending from Everton. You didn’t really believe we’d get back into the game then even at 1-0 but when Cardozo made it 2-0 you just knew there was no hope.

Late substitute Kieran Agard could possibly have forced a grandstand finish late on when he snatched at two really good chances though it was never going to happen tonight.

I’m worried about this season. Whilst I firmly believe not any other club but perhaps Arsenal could cope with the injury situation we’ve incurred, we’re really lacking that toughness, hardworking and difficult to beat mentality that has become our trademark under David Moyes. We need to get back to basics fast.

You just need to look at our league position and the run of games we’ve got coming up to figure that one out. I’d take a point at West Ham right now if only it meant coming out of the international break with more bodies available than we do now.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: A mad lapse in the first half when he collided with Baines and nearly presented Benfica with a golden chance aside, he played very well and made some good saves, one outstanding. 7
  • Baines: Was decent defensively but poor crossing and terrible passing. 6
  • Distan: Sluggish at best. 5
  • Yobo: A bit better than Distin but not at his best. 6
  • Hibbert: Definitely the pick of the defenders as far defending is concerned but not concentrated enough in attack. 6
  • Rodwell: My Man of the Match: Showed moments of true quality tonight. 7
  • Cahill: Worked tirelessly and got stuck in. I think it's hurting him more than most at the moment as captain. 7
  • Fellaini: Played quite well generally. Needed more support from his teammates from his countless flick-ons, as Idda pointed out to me again…and again…and again. 7
  • Bilyaletdinov: Glimpses of brilliance but generally the application just wasn’t there from our Russian. 5
  • Gosling: Decent first half but faded badly in the second period. 5
  • Yakubu: Showed good build-up play and nice touches in the first half but just couldn’t cut it in the second half. Weren’t for want of trying though… he’s just not fit again yet. 5
  • Jo (for Gosling): Put himself about a bit at least. 6
  • Agard (for Yakubu): Nearly got Man of the Match for me and had he have buried one of those chances he would have. Ran about and at least seemed to care. 7

Reader Comments

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Iain Love
1   Posted 06/11/2009 at 08:15:45

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As you pointed out Paul communication was poor last night , Bilys free kick into nobody summed it up and the crossfield ball that resulted in Rodwells booking says the same about the quality of passing. I also felt that we kept hesitating and waiting for the ball instead of anticipating, this put us 2nd best to Benfica .
Gosling didn’t put a foot right all night and sadly was exposed as worse than Ossie in that position.
Where do we go from here ? looks like Arteta will be missing for longer than we thought and Pienaar ???? anybody know ???
I think Nevilles return will help communication , maybe not passing but that right hand side still looks weak.
Benfica are a decent side,but not as good as we made them look .
Gary Mortimer
2   Posted 06/11/2009 at 08:51:10

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From my seat (level with the halfway line in the Top Balcony) our lack of movement and anticipation was obvious last night. Only Cahill showed any fighting spirit.

The first half was ok, but the second half was a shambles. We didn’t have a shot on goal until we were two down.

The sooner Jags, Pienaar and Arteta return from injury to replace Distin (looking a bit casual at times), Fellaini (also far too casual and his body language last night was dreadful) and Gosling (just not up to it methinks) the better. With Neill at right back, the team immediately looks stronger.

Unfortunately by the time our better players do return and get up to speed, I think our season will be over.
Anthony Hawkins
3   Posted 06/11/2009 at 10:38:25

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I was very suprised at what I saw last night and can sum it up in four points:

1. Lack of desire / passion / want:
The majority of players last night simply didn’t appear to want to play football. They didn’t want the ball and they certainly didn’t seem to want to move into space to receive it. Only three players seem to have any motivation and that wasn’t all of the time: Rodwell, Bily and Hibbert. The tackles towards the end highlighted they wanted the team to break out of a canter. What was it? Even Jo looked more up for it when he came on as a sub and he usually looks out of it! Did they think "well, we’ll lose this one" and not bother? Which brings me nicely onto the second point

2. The team looked uncomfortable: No one wanted the ball and no one wanted to stay on the ball and any ball they did receive, it was received in a flap and gotten rid of quickly to another player. I couldn’t work out why so many passes were going astray and then it dawned on me there was an inability to pass to a FREE blue shirt!! Why were most of the passes to players who was being marked? What this in turn did was make the player receiving the ball, panic and either lose the ball OR pass the ball straight to a Benfica player. Either way, the ball was often lost.
May be the culprite was from point #1 and players didn’t lose their markers?

3. Always two touches and never one touch football:
Have the players been trained to play by always taking at least two touches? On a number of occassions had they played one touch, it would have gotten them out of trouble and beaten the oncoming defenders. Instead it was always two touch. First to control/stop and the second an attempt to pass however given that the players usually had a marker on them this enabled the Benfica players to get in and steal the ball. Failing that it was back to the wild passing.

4. Yakubu should not have been playing and certainly not for that long! Yes we were short of players and he needs a runout however he only had one chance and never really looked like scoring. We looked more dangerous when Jo came on.

We are on a threadbare squad and a couple of my more amenable Red supporter mates have suggested we should temporarily attempt to field a solid first 11 based on the two squads instead, which speaks volumes however some of these things are pure basics and may be it’s that there is no heart in the team. How would instil that on the pitch? Some of them are trying but it’s going to be a long season if the players don’t find their drive and motivation.
Ciarán McGlone
4   Posted 06/11/2009 at 11:04:59

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Cahill 7?

Well I suppose if youre giving out 7’s to Agard for simply getting on.
Norman Grimwood
5   Posted 06/11/2009 at 11:07:38

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While I have been an Evertonian for almost fifty years due to work commitments and then moving to live abroad I have not been to Goodison Park for many a year. This may not give me as much right to pass comment on the present team as the regular fan that turns up home game after home game but I would like to share a few thoughts.

I watched both games against Benfica on TV and saw that technically and tactically they were light years ahead of Everton who even found it difficult to pass the ball with any accuracy. To be honest Evertons technique and tactics are not even at Premier league standard.

Finding a rich investor or changing the manager may not bring the club the success that their great fans deserve, the later, however would bring in new ideas technically and tactically which could improve the performance of the team.

No one can argue about the good work that DM has done in the past, but now he seems bankrupt of any new ideas and opponents know Evertons tactics before the games even start. The problems of this seasons can not all be put down to the large injury list and the club need to serious think about a change in the management team.

Kevy Quinn
6   Posted 06/11/2009 at 12:23:55

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When people are saying Fellaini played well and we bring Jo off the bench, its not hard to see were our problems lie. Jo is like Bambi on Steroids and Fellaini is to slow for Sunday league. Iv gave up on the two useless twats. As for Billy did he come out for the second half? and what ever happened to kicking a player and taking a yellow card? For their first goal their player strolled from the half way line to the edge of the box. Did we not learn anything from the rape against Arsenal. Im finding myself drinking more and more Morgan Spiced after Everton games. Pure shite! injuries or no injuries, just as well Asda have it on offer at the minute.
Ciarán McGlone
7   Posted 06/11/2009 at 12:39:52

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Kevy,

In the first half..Fellaini was actually sprinting to close down players.....He was the only one the midfield doing it.

maybe you missed that.
Jonathan Fogg
8   Posted 06/11/2009 at 12:56:28

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Have to agree wtih Ciaran with regard to Fellaini, I thought he was genuinely our best player - neat and tidy for the most part and most crucially - took possession and wait for it............ actually moved forward with the ball!!

If I see anymore sideways passing in midfield resulting in a chipped pass from either full back to an isolated forward then I will end up having a heart attack.

But then again this goes back to the point in the original article which I felt was spot on. No movement after a pass only leads to passing to players who are marked which in turn leads to a turnover in possession. Recently, this lack of possession means the defence is put under lost more pressure with little relief etc etc

Its really basic stuff, I fear until we get our creative players back we will be seeing more of this until the new year.
Gareth Atkinson
9   Posted 06/11/2009 at 13:22:15

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Yes, injuries are taking their toll, but the fact of the matter is if 11 professional footballers can’t make simple passes and actually keep hold of the ball in European football then your serious fucking trouble no matter who were playing and we got punished last night for the lack of discipline we showed
Ciarán McGlone
10   Posted 06/11/2009 at 13:33:16

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I wonder would the reaction on here be any different on here if we’d beaten them 5-0 in Portugal and were coming off the back of 3 straight wins?

I get the feeling that the despair is being a little magnified on the basis that for some reason there was an expectation that some kind of revenge would be handed out last night...

Kevy Quinn
11   Posted 06/11/2009 at 13:46:32

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Sober up Ciaran.


Fellaini might have been ’’sprinting’’ in your eyes. But the last time i checked sprinting means to run fast! Fellaini cant run fast or move fast therfore he might have been running at his top speed but no he wasnt sprinting.
Ciarán McGlone
12   Posted 06/11/2009 at 13:59:18

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haha...


I was drinking a tin of beer at the time and I was amazed too...

It was like a scene from a film where a guy who’s having a drink sees something bizarre and looks at his drink as if he’s been spiked with mushrooms!

The car coming out of the water in ’spy who loved me’ comes to mind..

No shit Kev...he sprinted in the first half...I couldn’t believe it myself...watch the first half again..
Stewart Littler
13   Posted 06/11/2009 at 14:17:42

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You’re right - we didn’t turn up for the second half. However, what is conveniently ignored is that an Argentinian international was brought on early in the second half and had a hand in both goals.

As for Cahill showing any motivation - the sooner Tim is rested/dropped, the better. Not only does he look worn out, he doesn’t look interested. His reaction at being moved wide right to facilitate a change was downright disgusting (especially as captain), and he was the worst passer of the ball of the entire 5 in midfield.

Howard - 6; one stunning save but needs to give his back 4 more confidence
Hibbert - 7; decent game for Tony, with one excellent challenge as Saviola went through
Yobo - 6; not rising to the challenge of marshalling the defence
Distin - 6; struggled
Baines - 6; delivery into the box has dropped severely in quality
Gosling - 5; not the replacement for Osman some had him down as
Rodwell - 6; needs a rest
Fellaini - 8; one player who really harried the Benfica defence and looked good on the ball
Bilyaletdinov - 6; still settling in
Yakubu - 6; should have hit the target after a fine turn
Cahill - 4; poor in every single way
Subs:
Jo - 6; tried but still looks clumsy
Agard - 6; smaller than I realised and struggled to do anything other than resemble a headless chicken
Dave Wilson
14   Posted 06/11/2009 at 15:15:40

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"what is conveniently ignored is that an Argentinian international was brought on early in the second half and had a hand in both goals "

Thats in the rules Stuart, you can do that . . and I really dont think anyone ignored it . . . except maybe our back four

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