COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
With the Coleman always delivering twice and Ref Mariner all at sea, we gain another point toward safety and just a little breathing space as we await the cavalry.
In a game that started uniquely for me as for the first time watching the Blues ever I saw a player (Yobo) limp on! The fact that he limped off after 15mins was no surprise and that was not to be the end of my wonderment regarding player fitness assessment as well as player’s mental attitude as the introduction of Saha and Yak saw them both sluggish and hesitant yet a goal turned them both into dervishes and gave us belief.
When Yobo gave up the ghost on 15 mins, we replaced him with Coleman and were presented with a back four of Coleman, Hibbert, Neill and Baines against one of the leagues more potent strike forces, Crouch and Defoe fed by the likes of the speedy Lennon and the promptings of Huddlestone with Keane in reserve.
The first half was well contested and our make-shift back four seemed to inspire the rest to play joined up stuff more than the regulation percentage hoofs into channels. After a bit of a stalemate Rodwell put in the games first hard tackle and fairly won the ball whilst leaving the Spurs player on the deck. The Ref. called foul and booked Jack bringing down waves of derision from those assembled and in a way this set the tone of the game and standard of refereeing until the end.
On the half hour mark Jo epitomised the frustration that many a Blue has with him as first he spun expertly and delivered a shot just wide then moments later Pienaar found him with the perfect pass and he resembled ‘Bambi on ice’ as the ball got mixed up with his legs and a glorious chance was gone as he shuffled the ball wide.
Baines fired a free kick wide and then Assou-Ekotto made contact with Cahill’s head with his boot as the Aussie was prone and then raised hands to both the protesting Cahill and Fellaini. The hapless Ref. booked The Spurs man and Fellaini who had become over incensed at the episode. I have seen many a player sent off for what the Spurs man did.
The game resumed and it took a while for team-mates to lift the red mist of injustice from Fellaini. Spurs were ever dangerous though and Defoe whipped one wide and but for two timely tackles from the excellent Hibbert and a good block from Howard from the same player Spurs would have gone in at H/T at least one up.
The chat at the break was of how well we were doing in spite of the missing recognised central defenders and with a more potent striker than Jo we may have netted.
The second half started, Spurs started but for some reason we didn’t, ‘Appy Arry’ had replaced the volatile Essou-Ekotto with Bale and within two minutes of the restart we were a goal down. Baines again allowed Lennon space and his near post cross saw De-Foe go across Hibbert and net, the silence was deafening and the Spurs fans rubbed it in by chanting ‘Going down going down’. Crouch then missed a sitter by firing just wide then the hopelessly out of sorts Baines got booked for a needless challenge and then had a clearance charged down by Lennon who fed Huddleston and his goal-bound effort was deflected away by the impressive Hibbert.
Then on the hour mark from a Spurs corner Neill somehow let Dawson go and his diving header beat Howard. 2-0... game over – or was it? Spurs thought it was and were stroking the ball about in confident fashion. Our manager responded by taking off the ineffectual Jo and Rodwell and brought on Yak and Saha. Not a lot changed immediately and Crouch missed a gilt edged chance that would have sealed it for sure.
Then with fifteen mins to go Coleman who stormed forward at every opportunity beat two Spurs men and got to the by-line and picked out Saha who fired high into the net, game on, the crowd were up and roaring, Saha and Yak suddenly forgot about injuries and were rampaging and that man Coleman roared again. Saha had a bicycle kick go just wide from a left wing cross then moments later after good play from Yak among others fed Coleman who crossed long and for once Baines steadied himself and put in a low cross that saw Cahill stoop to conquer, attack the corner flag and Goodison was rocking.
The goal was late in coming but the board said 4 more minutes and we attacked but some 2 mins into that time Spurs countered and the granite hard Hibbert clashed with Palacios who was left grounded, penalty said the ref. the crowd disagreed but it was one of those 50/50s that if you were a Spurs fan it was nailed on but for Blues fans it was hard defending.
Whilst the Spurs man received treatment and was finally stretchered off the manager had called over Saha to the dugout and sent him scampering back to converse with Howard. It must have been words of wisdom as Howard beat away the spot kick with his legs to raucous cheering from the faithful and the USA-USA chant rang around the ‘old lady’ . Unfortunately time soon ran out and at the whistle the anthem ‘Grand old team’ was sung out with the gusto of a win.
This time the walk back to my post match watering hole the snatches of conversation were of a more positive nature than for some time. Graft, exuberance of youth, a willingness to play out of position as well as the mental attitude to rise above injury worries coupled with some decent football can obviously lift spirits even in a draw, a lesson that should not be ignored by both players and management.
We talk about turning points a lot, maybe this is one of those episodes but only if the players believe that even in adversity we do have the quality to incorporate young players and players being asked to play in unaccustomed positions.
Overall I thought it was a great game to watch and for once worth the admission money, we got a bit of everything.
MotM I believe will go to Coleman but for me I couldn’t separate Hibbert and Fellaini with Pienaar running them close. Now if we can just get Bilyaletdinov and Baines up to speed and hope the returning Heitinga can in some way compensate for the suspended Cahill the trip to Chelsea may not be quite as daunting as it appears on paper.
A good early evening out, honours shared with a top three side and in Coleman and Hibbert have we found the Blue Cafu? And the Blue Barresi? Well perhaps not but they did us proud today.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 07/12/2009 at 04:56:05
We certainly rode our luck at times, but so did spurs. Better finishing from both sides and the score could have been anything..
I hope Coleman gets a run now, but big ask at the bridge obviously. If Distan and Yobo are both out, I’d go with:
Coleman, Heitinga, Neill, Baines;
Hibbo (sitting deep, in front of back four and tackling anything that moves);
Bilyaletdinov, Fellaini, Rodwell, Pienaar ;
Bench: Yakubu, Nash, Duffy plus other kids.
2 Posted 07/12/2009 at 08:07:37
Ok, defensively we were a bit bereft but I was surprised at the fact we were punting it long to the isolated Jo for most of the first half - will Moyes ever fucking learn with such a counter-productive approach?
Surely, yesterday’s experience means Jo (whose first touch / close ball control was comical) must be dropped and Coleman gets a run in the side. Don’t bank on it with Moyes. The list of teams below us is getting thinner and the need to start collecting three points is becoming very urgent.
Sorry, although, there were some temporary happiness at fighting back (with much ball on deck) and penalty save, the fact that we are in deep shit cancels any elation out for me. It’s very simple now, forget about Chelsea, if we don’t start with 3 points againt Brum at home somebody may as well turn out the lights.
3 Posted 07/12/2009 at 08:08:07
Rodwell’s booking was farcical but Fellaini’s retaliaton on that freak Crouch should have resulted in a red (If the ref was being consistant) and by the time Dawson scored he should have been in the showers contemplating how he would be spending his one game’s suspension for two clear cut bookable offences.
I thought that Hibbert was outstanding for a stand in Centre Half, Peanuts looked dangerous on the ball, Coleman is the future at Right Back... brilliant Goodison debut.
Baines looked all at sea at times; Jo had a couple of good touches and turns but looks very short on confidence - I get the feeling if he gets one he’ll get a shed full. Saha - magnificent.
Now, Jack Rodwell - he put through two defence splitting balls in the first half that Hoddle would have been proud of, made a fantastic tackle that most definitely got the ball and got booked for his troubles. He then seemed to go into his shell sulking like the teenager he is (Sometimes we forget how young the lad is). I still think he’s a very fine prospect indeed - but he needs to be more consistent in his game. I’ve a feeling that if Moyes had the luxury of a full squad, young Jack would be spending a spell warming the bench.
4 Posted 07/12/2009 at 08:40:46
Oh,and isn’t Neill embarassingly bad!
5 Posted 07/12/2009 at 09:44:11
And the yak is really starting to do my head in...by thinking he can dribble. He’s a one/two touch footballer - not a Saha!
Apart from that it was a superb spectacle as a match..we were very poor and very good at times...
Great watch and a great point..
Bouquets for Coleman - refreshing
6 Posted 07/12/2009 at 09:53:15
I actually think we can stifle Chelsea next weekend and our season could be about to finally get started. Saha is showing what a bloody great striker he is and in my opinion is eclipsing Ferguson as the cult hero.
My only gripe is with Bili. I thought he was very poor yesterday. He stands off too much, ducked out of tackles and headers and failed to stop any attacks down his flanks. Maybe he adjusting to the pace but I expect more from a £10 million pound man.
Overall very happy with the spirit shown and looking forward to the new year!
7 Posted 07/12/2009 at 10:37:47
I thought Billy was overwhelmed by the whole pace and physicality of the game..
To be expected...It was blood and thunder stuff..
8 Posted 07/12/2009 at 11:34:32
9 Posted 07/12/2009 at 12:31:28
Early-ish in the first half the ball was knocked long to Piennar, who went after it, only to be shoved, quite deliberately, by Ekotto. I realise that Piennar was not in control of the ball, but that makes it okay to shoulder-challenge an opponent, not hand him off as in rugby. It amazes me that this was not even picked up by the BBC in "Match of the Day". If this had been given Ekotto would have received a second yellow for shoving Fellaini in the face and we would have been 1-0 up and 11-10 men up going into the second half.
10 Posted 07/12/2009 at 12:37:52
Have you not noticed how we have been finishing 5th for the past 2 seasons and when we broke in to the top 4 we were punching above our weight, plucky gritty battlers etc etc but when Villa (who couldn't last the pace) last year and Spurs this year have threatened to break in to the top 4 in the early stages of the season they have been "well put together, realising their potential, skillful, a joy to watch" etc.
It's a joke... I bet they're happy we’re having a hard time this season, I really would love us to mount a late charge when everyone's back, finish 5th and win a cup, then Fellaini can go and elbow Lee Dixon, Martin Keown and that fat West Brom fan in the throat!!! The swines!
11 Posted 07/12/2009 at 13:03:46
12 Posted 07/12/2009 at 13:11:23
Felli gives away so many unecessary free kicks and his elbowing has now given him the type of reputation that dogged Duncan throughout his career.
13 Posted 07/12/2009 at 15:32:27
14 Posted 07/12/2009 at 22:24:52
The neutrals do believe that the likes of Spurs , Villa and even West Ham are far better on the eye to watch , up to this season you were more likely to see creative goals for and against in their games as opposed to games following Everton.
The facts are in the pubs and bars around here where the teams mentioned above play you’ll struggle to get in, whilst when I watched an Everton game last season their were plenty of places to sit.
15 Posted 08/12/2009 at 14:26:36
It’s amusing that Moyes now has a selection headache at RB, with up to 4 contenders. Both of our current central defenders are liabilities so I’m not getting any hopes up until Jags is back, and even then time will be required.
We will improve but I think a topsy turvy season is inevitable. What may be in our favour is our run in. Last 10 games are all lower/middle teams. Mind you, hasn’t helped so far.
It’s slightly unfair to judge the new players, e.g. Bily, based on current circumstances. Most players need at least a season to bed down, and ideally the right colleagues to bring out the best in them (eg, Arteta & Pienaar). Of more irritation is the 4-5-1 monster. Seems to be cast in concrete. I think we could do so much better with different structure and emphasis.
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