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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Man City (A)

By Ken Buckley :  25/03/2010 :  Comments (17) :

Another three points toward that so important Euro qualification spot from a game that will live in the memory banks as the Blues were resilient, professional and clinical. A game that had the added edge of the Moyes mind games in his still seething of the Lescott affair which was to blow up at the death as Mancini caved in to the realisation he and his team had been comprehensively outthought, outfought and outplayed by a manager, team and club of meagre means putting into context the fact that instant billions of pounds and extravagant spending does not overnight a big club make.

The half started with Everton making the running and for 15mins they were the pressing side but without that final ball to go ahead. City then started to press more and the game became quite fractious as City’s frustration led to some tasty personal battles. Richards launched himself at a cross that left players laying in the area like ‘tenpins’ and looped a ball that Howard grabbed under the bar, hurt himself against a post and threw the ball out as it was the aforementioned Richards who had come off worse in the incident. Next Ireland sent Tevez clear with a lobbed pass and many a heart fluttered as Howard seemed to hesitate before rushing out and somehow getting a block on that Jags mopped up.

The City fans were now most irritated and were blaming the ref for allsorts and Heitinga had them seething further as he saw to Ireland from behind and was booked. The craziest foul of the season must go to Tevez who dived swimming pool style at Jags as he cleared and instead of an 8-10 he was booked. Just after the half hour mark the City mood darkened further when Barry saw fit to pull and tug at Cahill and cause the ref to give the Pink and Blacks a free kick near the corner flag. Arteta instead of putting in the regulation kick rolled the ball to Baines lurking unmarked on the edge of the box, he either shot or crossed but the upshot was the ball flew into the net and Cahill punching the corner flag confirmed the scorer. Absolute bedlam from those assembled from Goodison way and silence from the rest of the ground.

City responded with a wave of attacks but all were repelled by a well organised rearguard. The fouls kept coming and Pienaar was booked for bringing down Richards with a very late tackle. Everton attacked when they could and from one of these City broke with Tevez leading the charge chased by a turbo-charged Arteta and as he got level with Tevez he brought him down with the cunning of a seasoned La Liga pro. no booking which saw goalkeeper Given race some 50yds to instruct the Ref to give a booking only to be booked himself for his arrogance. It just showed how deep we were under their skin. Ireland limped off just before the break to be replaced by SWP still feeling the effects of a Dutch clog.

Half-time and all were pleased with the performance and the fact we had kept them at arms length to the whistle.

Second half and we started the brighter and more composed team and from good build up Osman fired wide from a poor City clearance and Cahill lobbed Given but the ball faded passed the upright, if that had been just about a foot to the right it would of been a goal of the month contender. City then had a 20minute spell of constant attack, prodding and probing but always being forced into crosses from deep and when they did reach the box there was always a defender in the right place to deny them. Sometimes we had to use the long punt to no one to relieve pressure but always looking to play our way out when we could and from some of these breaks you got the impression that the City backline was not in keeping with their price tags. As much as City attacked Howard was really underworked which underlined the professional manner of the defending so much so that Mancini sent on Santa Cruz to try and pep things up.

Just after the 70min mark Saha seemed to have run his race and was replaced by Rodwell so going with last seasons formation of a fluid 4-6-0. Mancini responded by bringing on Vieira but not much changed with City getting forward but being sent down blind alleys with excellent defending that had the City fans starting to turn on their own. We had a scare when Howard palmed away a corner and seemed to land heavily. He was on the deck for an age and Nash was stripped and ready but when the American was hauled to his feet he seemed to gesture to the physio that he was staying on’ he did and seemed to be mostly OK.

Whenever we counter attacked we looked the more composed and used the ball in pass and move mode much better than the hosts and it was from such a break and move with just 5mins remaining that sent the travelling faithful mental. Imagine the scene, midway into their half and Pienaar squares to Heitinga who moves the ball on to Osman hugging the touchline he finds Rodwell ahead of him on that touchline, Rodwell goes past Kompany and heads for the box,m he then turns his man inside out and spots Cahill and feeds him, Cahill steps over the ball to allow the incoming Arteta to fire into the bottom corner with the precision of a watchmaker. The roof really came off as the faithful hugged, kissed, cheered and made incomprehensible noises that were meant to be speech.

Now the songs really started ‘Your getting sacked in the morning’ Lescott, Lescott what’s the score’ ‘The managers song’ and every other Everton song you have ever heard. You just knew that we had stuffed them good style and with class but the drama was not quite over as the ball went out by the dugout Moysie caught it, the next thing I saw was a sky blue blur speed toward Moyes and the result being two men standing toe to toe. The upshot of this heated moment was the Ref sending both off and the game restarting with no more than a throw in. At this time the ground was emptying faster than United fans at Wembley and the travelling fans having the acoustics to themselves. Final whistle and pandemonium both on and off the pitch as everyone congratulated everyone on a win that has sent expectation through the roof.

Overall I was delighted with this display as the team did all that was asked of them, they defended well and in a controlled manner where every player knew his job, they broke with a conviction and determination to keep the ball and probe. MotM I would not offer as whoever you chose would be doing a disservice to all the others as it was truly a team performance. I would mention though Cahill and Jags who have both been less than top form for a few games but tonight both rose to the occasion.

Wolves away next and as ever in the prem a different challenge but one that we need to overcome. If we take the City form and consistency into the game we will have a good chance. If we can get the three points and other results are kind then Easter Sunday at Goodison will be well worth getting a ticket for.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Keith Glazzard
1   Posted 25/03/2010 at 20:11:09

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Ken - your opening paragraph sums it up perfectly. And Mr Cool losing his cool - and marbles if he was seriously considering taking on the Moyes in a stand up knock down.

The Brother asked me who my MOM was, and my reaction was exactly the same as yours - good all over the park, just as it should be.

Not a night for King Louis - although he was almost in the clear twice, I think - but one for the many fine midfielders we have. And I was quite delighted to see 4-6-0 ride again. And what a ride. Osman to Rodwell to Tim, who as the nominal striker had the good grace to let it go to Arteta. Bang. Life blood for Evertonians.

Big games to come, but a good start to the run-in.
Steve Carter
2   Posted 25/03/2010 at 20:49:32

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Thank you, Ken, and Paul Traill, for your respective reports. I really enjoyed this match - and at such a civilised time: over breakfast for me down here in Oz! Naturally, I'm biased towards Tim Cahill. Recent critical comments about him on this site have wound me up - the best being, as someone posted on Paul's article, something like 'take away his headed goals and he's nothing'. He really did lift us in this game, I thought. I wonder if all of his critics amongst us are going to really be happy when he finally moves on - his niggle, his energy, his Samoan tat, his corner flag Kangaroo box...after his 'headed' goals. Great, as you say, to see Jags stellar shift too.
Keith Glazzard
3   Posted 25/03/2010 at 21:09:23

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Steve - never mind the rest, the simple fact is that for about three seasons now we have won the majority of games when Tim has played, and lost more when he was unavailable.

The odd thing, though, is that nobody (Moyes excepted?) knows why. The Brother reckons that he annoys the opposition so much that they think about him and us rather than what they should be doing. Its a good theory - a bit like physical sledging.

If he didn't have all the qualifications to be a top player in a top EPL team, he wouldn't be there - full stop. I've said before, there must be managers out there, particularly in London, who keep asking themselves, 'how did we miss him?'.
David Gallant
4   Posted 25/03/2010 at 21:33:59

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Good report as ever, Ken. A quality performance all round. As for Cahill, I think if you analyse his game carefully you will find that he is improving as a footballer. He knows his limitations and has learnt a few tricks to get himself out of tight spaces and create space.

Bit like young Rodwell in that regard. The way he dropped his shoulder after receiving it on the byline and then skinning Kompany, before a Cruyffesque little shimmy and dragback, great composure before threading the perfect pass to Cahill was pure class.

Rodwell is going to be one hell of a player and we are beginning to see more of the Gerrard in him. Little glimpses, but evidence nonetheless.

Things are looking most rosy in the garden ;)

COYB!!!
Peter Warren
5   Posted 25/03/2010 at 21:54:16

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cahill back to his best, jags looking more like his old self too
Brendan O'Doherty
6   Posted 26/03/2010 at 00:56:57

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Ken, your report would make anyone wish they had been there!

I would have to nominate TC as the MOM though, for the goal, the chip and the dummy.

Fair play to TH as well though. Never looked in danger of conceding and played on despite injury.

And it seems that Rodwell coming on won the game for us. Excellent all round. Roll on Saturday.
Mike Southworth
7   Posted 26/03/2010 at 01:05:58

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Last night was my first away game for a good few years, thanks to a Man City supporting friend with a couple of season tickets. I found myself in the East Stand amongst the home support, so had to curb my usual "enthusiasm".

Given the size of the stadium, or at least the impression from outside, I was surprised at how close to the pitch the fans are. You feel right on top of the play. As to the match itself there are far better reporters than I on here, so I'll leave it to them, other than to say that for me Leon Osman was excellent last night.

The thing that struck me, though, was that if I had closed my eyes and ignored the accents, I could have been sitting in The Gwladys or Bullens. The Man City fans have exactly the same concerns as we do.

They felt the ref was against them, they couldn't understand why Mancini was playing Tevez on his own up front because they had nothing in the final third, conveniently forgetting the three/four chances they had in the first half. They don't rate Stephen Ireland and think Bellamy is a headcase.

The players they do like are the ones that don't often get mentioned in despatches - Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany ,in particular, seem very well thought of.

Just like us, they expect more. Whether they'll get it though, remains to be seen.

Derek Thomas
8   Posted 26/03/2010 at 00:42:58

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As the stats prove, we win more with Tim than without him.

The coach of the legendary 1970 Brazil side said, that for every Meastro the has to be a player to push the piano on stage, Tim the piano pusher Cahill.

He has the knack, the unteachable God given talent of being in the right place at the right time.

So long as you do the simple things well there is nothing wrong with being the ' worst ' player in a very goog team.

Any coach worth his salt knows that and when he gets one sticks like glue to them.

Clough took McGovern from Hartlepool all the way to 2 European Cups, Ray Houghton was another as was Joe Parkinson.

A German so called expert said, ' Who put that carthorse in with all the thouroughbreds '...he was talking about???

Gerd Muller.

Long live the piano pushers of this world.
Martin Mason
9   Posted 26/03/2010 at 06:39:38

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I think most of you are missing the point on the Cahill issue. Of course he is brilliant and very valuable when he is knocking in 10-15 goals per season and playing as well as we know he can. I have criticised him and my criticism was that when you take the 10 goals away such as earlier in the year when his scoring dried up he needs to bring something else to the table and for a long while that was also zero so it wasn't just the 10 goals. He also has the ever present risk of being sent of f for what for me is the worst aspect of his game, continuously niggling digs and some very nasty fouls of which most are calculated.

I also completely accept that in recent games he is back to his best and bringing not only the goals but positive contribution everywhere on the field with it. To say that earlier criticism wasn't valid because he's started playing well again is of course total nonsense. He deserved every word of criticism at the time because he was playing like a prat.

Osman too, I rate him very highly and he was criticised to kingdom come but look at the lad now. Does that make the earlier criticism wrong? No, he played like a total prick for a while. Like any decent Evertonian if I've criticised them in the past I also praise them now.
Dave Wilson
10   Posted 26/03/2010 at 06:28:50

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Cahill has been way below the standards he has set himself this season and has been rightly panned for it, but it was there for all to see last night, he was back, doing what he does best.

While Pienaar, Arteta and Ossie did the pretty stuff, The Tiger was leaving his mark all over the City team, the Evertonians loved it and as someone has already pointed out, he was no slouch in possession either. I`m a big fan of Tevez, but he looked a very poor imitation of the Tiger last night.

It was hard to see the deft little touch he got — I thought Baines had scored — and as Ken rightly points out there was pandemonium in the Everton section, but the corner flag bashing told us all we needed to know.

If you get the chance, have another look at the Celebrations, as thousands of City fans rise from their seats screaming abuse in an attempt intimidate him into leaving the corner flag alone, The Tiger merely goes into a kind of slow motion as he approaches... then batters fuck out of it anyway.

Childish I know, but I loved it.

Dennis Stevens
11   Posted 26/03/2010 at 06:57:55

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Excellent read, as ever, Ken. The chase for Europe's really on, & I still harbour hopes of finishing the season with Rafa "Beneath-us"! However, it's next season that I'm already looking forward to now.

By the way, is that 2 goals in relatively quick succession from pretty much the same move? Player cuts in from the right, lays a diagonal ball back across the area, first striker steps over & oncoming midfielder slots home - let's hope we can do that every match!
Peter Bourke
12   Posted 26/03/2010 at 08:01:37

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With respect Martin, I don't think we missed your point about the criticism of Tim Cahill.

I believe when his form earlier in the season was well below his best, which we both agree on, it was because of injuries he was being asked to play in many different positions from week to week and this had a negative impact on his game. He wasn't deployed in his favorite role and best position. As a result he was well below his best.

With this in mind i believe the criticism was unjust and not accurate.

Martin Mason
13   Posted 26/03/2010 at 08:35:53

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Peter, your comments on his injury and playing out of position mitigate in a way but he also played in his best position when fit and played like a plonker. All irrelevant of course because he has been above criticism recently.

We should definitely support the players and make allowances for them but we pay their wages via entrance money and Sky subscription and we have every right to criticise as long as it's fair. Pointing out that TC was playing like a plonker was a statement of the obvious not criticism:-).

I did make two criticisms that were possibly unfair which were a) he was being played because Moysey would still pick him if he lost a leg travelling to the game and b) that it could possibly be the end of his time at Everton. He has proven me wrong in the best possible way.

Early season was very frustrating for us all and as lot of the criticism was born out of that.

I watched Lionel Mesi Sunday and he was bloody hopeless, he only scored two after three hat tricks on the trot. OK he had a broken leg and was playing in goal but come on, just not good enough :-)
Terry Hayes
14   Posted 26/03/2010 at 09:53:04

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Good report again, Ken. There is definitely more to Timmy's game lately his vision and passing improving all the time... is it a coincidence that he is back to being at his nuisance best with the return of Mikky?

For my money, the most improved player of late is little Ossie. I am no longer pissed off when I see his name on the teamsheet, I just wonder where Felli is going to fit into this great little outfit.

Johnny Heitinga, the return of Jags, Steven Piennar... WOW — this team is going places [if we can keep them, that is].

Michael Kidd
15   Posted 26/03/2010 at 13:12:09

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Just a thought - have we lost in the black and pink kit yet?
Stewart Littler
16   Posted 26/03/2010 at 14:40:45

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No we haven't Michael

Great job from the boys, another needed tomorrow.
Ciarán McGlone
17   Posted 26/03/2010 at 23:21:19

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If Cahill played for another team i've no doubt he'd be given some serious stick on here for being a dirty bastard...look at the stick Bellamy got, and he's certainly no worse than Cahill..

It's amazing what people will ignore ...Cahill is a good player on form...We should not be looking to get rid of anyone.

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