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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Blackburn (A)

By Ken Buckley :  14/08/2010 :  Comments (27) :
Pretty in pink... but ugly in football as Everton fail to turn up for the opener of the season. A packed away end of ever hopeful fans, believing this was to be our year, were at the final whistle left to ponder a quite lacklustre performance that contained too much hoofball from the back... and when we did create pretty patterns in midfield no cutting edge was evident in the business area.

From the off, Blackburn had us on the back-foot and our hoofed clearances allowed the opposition to come right back at us. Within minutes, Olsson was clean through on goal and lobbed the onrushing Howard but fortunately cleared the bar.

Our back four looked a little desperate at times but somehow dealt with the predictable direct threats from the home team. Fellaini was using his height well to thwart some big defenders at set pieces but just on the 15-min mark, we went a goal down in bizarre circumstances as, from yet another ball through our defence, Howard raced out and made a routine collection and then inexplicably dropped it at the feet of Kalanic who rolled it into the empty net. Howard looked distraught and the assembled Blue hoards muttered.

As the half wore on, we did start to put some decent joined-up stuff together and advance toward their goal but we seemed only in first gear, especially when we reached the final third. To be fair, we did have attempts on goal but they were of the powder puff variety: Cahill a tame effort to the keeper; Arteta a free kick off the wall for a corner; and from that corner, the ball came to Fellaini who produced a peach of a backheel pass that Pienaar fired in straight at the keeper who spilled it but only Blackburn players were near and easily cleared.

Half-time and the chat was of bemusement at our lethargy considering the players we had out; surely the manager will make a change? But no... we started unchanged and once again it was the home team that started the faster. We were trying to get back in the game but yet again the final third was dominated by their defenders. We did have spectacular wayward shots from first Arteta and then Jags who today looked as though he had left any form at Wembley.

By now, the manager had seen enough and, on the hour mark, he introduced Beckford for Osman but little changed... and then, some 15mins later, Bilyaletdinov was on for Saha... and then Rodwell for the tiring Fellaini; still little changed... we tried hard without really threatening their goal.

I am not sure what formation we were meant to be playing but it made for an open end-to-end game and gave the home team chances to catch us on the break. Their sub was stopped by a good Howard block and then Distin made a good last-ditch well-timed tackle to deny the forward as he was about to shoot; then the home team had a free header that went over the bar.

We did some pressing and a chip in caused an almighty scramble in their box as Bilyaletdinov had three shots either blocked or scrambled away. Right at the end, we had our first real shot of venom on goal when Jags had a stinger palmed away by the keeper.

Overall I thought it was a poor show by us as throughout the game I got the sense we were lacklustre and a lack of pace and tempo was missing and as much as the players tried they just didn?t seem to have the understanding to remotely look like unlocking their defence.

Still, it is the first game of the season... and it wasn?t 1-6 this time. Fellaini, although physically fit, needs game-time to get match-fit, and hopefully Heitinga will be brought up to speed and be in contention to start next week. It is a pity the club has no money as, on today?s showing, we really need a quality striker, as Saha doesn?t seem right and Beckford will need gentle introductions ? that?s just to see if the gamble of signing him comes off.

The squad is as good as we have had for some years but whether it's good enough or deep enough to live up to this season's hype, only time will tell...

Maybe a cup? ? Here?s hoping! UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Andy McNabb
1   Posted 15/08/2010 at 03:33:52

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I do hope the hype generated by supporters desperate for success will not bring us all crashing down to earth. For several weeks I have wanted to reply in a more sobering tone to some of the "Top 4" predictions but was loathe to pour cold water on the obvious enthusiasm.
Early days indeed but after watching the whole of Spurs v Man City earlier in the evening, Everton v Blackburn could have been from a match several leagues below. The first game was certainly the best 0-0 draw I have seen for some time but the gulf in passing, movement and pace (with Spurs using the much maligned 4-4-2) was evident for all to see.
It's easy to be wise after the event so
roll on the next 90 minutes. It can only get better!
Martin Mason
2   Posted 15/08/2010 at 05:47:24

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This was an amazing shock and the ultimate in bubble popping. Not the result but the performance which made a mockery of our reasonably justified expectations. A lot of work needs to be done.

As Andy says, Spurs and city were a couple of leagues ahead, a marvelous game.

I still believe that Everton can come good but I wish they would save us these start of season hiccups. Hopefull we don't have to weight until game 20 this time.
Timothy Sebastian
3   Posted 15/08/2010 at 05:38:16

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As usual, Everton starts yet another season poorly. Nothing surprising about this. But what must change is that the malaise that normally results in the first bad game dragging into the next 5 to 8 games must stop. As we stand now, losing one game at the start of the season is no big deal. Every team will lose at least one game in the season. So we're in no problem now. But what we can't afford is a string of losses between now and Sept. Hopefully, the loss to Blackburn will wake up the team and we'll see a renewned vigour when Wolves come-a-calling. But than again, this is Everton and you really don't know. We're what 'Seinfeld' would call the typical "Bizarro" team.....i.e. up is down, black is white, right is left. Meaning......when you think we'll win, we lose. When you think we'll have a great season, we'll end up 17th. When you think we'll be relegated, we end up top 4. So fasten your seat belt lads, it's going to be one bumpy ride ahead.......
Tony I'Anson
4   Posted 15/08/2010 at 09:01:41

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If anyone care to do the stats:

How many hoofballs?
Why? (under instruction from DM / no one to pass to / no confidence in person to pass to).

How many times got past full-backs?
How many crosses into the box?

How many times did we give the ball away?

How many times did lone striker hold up the ball & lay it off?

I'm sure DM has these facts for the Monday morning meeting at Finch Farm. The question is, what are they going to do about it?

Chris Perry
5   Posted 15/08/2010 at 10:04:19

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We lack pace and creativity on the right. We lack a decent goal-getter. Neville and Osman along with Hibbert should never play again.
Kevin Gillen
6   Posted 15/08/2010 at 09:38:48

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Thanks for the great journalism Ken as usual, excellent report! I think we've got a long way to go before we are top four material on the evidence of this performance.

Some observations I would put forward are:- Blackburn away is an awkward fixture and, one silly mistake aside, we come away with a 0-0 draw and most fans are satisfied. So it's not the end of the world.

I am concerned we have no pace in the team, particularly out wide. The silence on the Pienaar situation is deafening ? the fans need some clarification on this, it is undermining one of our greatest attributes, our unity.

I also expect to see some new arrivals before the end of the transfer window, I think that Everton will not allow Pienaar to go on a Bosman, I'm sure they're still hoping he'll sign. We are light at Left Back and in wide midfield.

I can't see Yakubu staying either although to me he's still the best striker at the club. I would like to see Coleman start. Pip passes the ball too conservatively and slows the play down. Why wasn't he even on the bench? He may as well be at Blackpool!

Overall, Blackburn are a horrible side, had one goal attempt on target all game and defended a jammy goal with thtree centre halves at home. Depressing, we've now put ourselves under pressure to beat a bouyant and improving Wolves team.

Jimmy Hacking
7   Posted 15/08/2010 at 10:17:29

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Bloody hell. We have one mediocre performance and it's all doom and gloom again. I was as disappointed as anyone, but it's just one game, get over it!

Plus, Blackburn are hard to beat at home, and we were genuinely unlucky to lose.
Kase Chow
8   Posted 15/08/2010 at 10:21:45

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I sent a post recently asking what's going to change from last season's inability to win games we 'should' (if we have genuine ambitions of 4th) to this season. I still don't know the answer cos I can't see what has changed.

Yes, it's only 1 game and I would love (correction LOVE) us to finish 4th but I can't see what's changed to make us regularly win 'winnable' games. I fear success in a cup is our best chance of glory (which I would be happy with).

Poor showing yesterday...l et's hope we improve.
John Vanderwerff
9   Posted 15/08/2010 at 11:01:16

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Seemed to be the same start we have had in the last few years ? we just seem to be very slow off the blocks.

Blackburn played exactly as we would expect from a team managed by Sam Allardyce, we didn't seem too sure how we were meant to play... but, that said, we never seemed to control the ball for any period. Our touch across the team was woeful at times.

In terms of individual performances: Baines looked very shaky defensively in the first half; Distin looked slow at times; I can't understand why we persist in playing Saha away from home, he just isn't interested in a fight; possibly Howard's worst game in a blue shirt as he looked very shaky.

But it's only game one, we will just have to win the rest and hope Blackpool, Chelsea etc slip up during the rest of the season.

Joe McMahon
10   Posted 15/08/2010 at 11:44:07

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I noticed Spurs have 2 wide players. The last time we did was Limpar & Kanchelskis... mmm... that's the last time we won silverware.

I still struggle to see how Osman is played wide right, it's so fucking frustrating. DM is paid £65k a week to sort this!!!
Alan Kirwin
11   Posted 15/08/2010 at 11:48:50

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Well, didn't expect that and we should have been more up for it than we seem to be. We don't need width to beat Blackburn we need guile & movement.

One can only hope that the right lessons are learned from this jolt, and it is a jolt. We won there last season & they have had a poor pre-season. We are better than they are, we have strength and skill and it is depressing, not simply to lose, but to consider how little we threatened their goal.

I do so hope this is not going to be another fucking deja vu. I have convinced myself it was a blip, but hope that Moyes & Round sort out our game plan. There are no surprises when you play Blackburn. It was a poor result and a classic early season poor performance from Everton.

Wolves will offer a similar tough test and will get stuck in. Any repeat of yesterday and could be increasing number of Evertonians, me included, with egg on face. Sort it out Mr Moyes.

But don't panic Mr Mainwaring!.....just yet.
Bob Parrington
12   Posted 15/08/2010 at 12:14:44

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Hey Guys, Don't get too despondent! Out of the gloom of some crap passing there were some good signs. At least we didn't resort totally to the long ball from the back.

Once we wake up (hopefully next week), we will start to win on a regular basis! We have the players. Let Moyesie make the decisions to (hopefully) have the right starting 11.

COYB
Ciarán McGlone
13   Posted 15/08/2010 at 12:16:23

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Welcome back, Ken...

I don't really have anything to say about the match... I'm numb.

When will Moyes learn to pick our best available team???
Dick Fearon
14   Posted 15/08/2010 at 10:50:16

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Ken, I look forward to your reports, it is good to have you back again. The live action accounts from yourself and that other chap greatly enhances my TV viewing.

Never would I suggest that my match day experience in any way compares with yours but I wonder if camera close-ups can pick up a few things that may go unnoticed by the crowd. One of those things was a stunned silence punctuated only by audible groans when Osman?s name was announced.

The camera lingered on Arteta and Saha having an animated debate that appeared to be about tactics. Both of them gave the impression of being angry at each other... and that was before a ball was kicked.

Also noticeable was a second bloke other than Steve Round, in the dug out wearing a walky talky. Presumably they were not for them to talk to each other so at least two others must wear them. I wondered why.

The groans about Osman seem justified because, except for a single mazy dribble the little fellow was invisible.

No good came from Mikel and Louis's pre-kick-off heated argument. They were never on the same wavelength. Whatever it was about, it should have been sorted at Finch Farm.

As for those walky talkies, a bit more communication on the field would have done a lot more good.

Mark Scarratt
15   Posted 15/08/2010 at 13:18:38

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Distribution poor from the back.
Jagielka great defender put just hoofs it forward aimlessly.
Need Heitinga at centre half to bring ball out of defence and link with midfield.
Coleman should be right back. Neville too old and Hibbert not good enough.
Fellaini not match-fit but needs games to get fit... so no problem with his selection.
Still positive for the season to come, just an off-day and too many good players just didn't play well.
Chris Butler
16   Posted 15/08/2010 at 13:30:34

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The simple reality is, none of our midfielders are quick enough to produce anything unpredictable. We need to paly Cahill up front from now on because surely after his excellent performances playing as a lone striker prove that he should be playing up front. Saha is incapable of playing as a lone striker. He prefers to play behind the striker I believe and he can create goals.

Osman is far too inconsistent to be in the team. Beckford was always going to struggle when we don't have anyone who play through balls or balls in behind. In my opinion, we won't get anywhere near Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs unless we make signings.

Mike Oates
17   Posted 15/08/2010 at 13:36:37

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Good report, Ken. I also watched the Spurs game and the difference is pace. They actually don't try to play it pretty, they get the ball out wide and quickly and let Bale and Lenno do the business.

We will try to play it around the defences and any width provided by our full backs ? which need to be Baines and Coleman. The problem with our style is it's a slow build-up which will give the likes of Blackburn, Wolves, Bolton, Stoke etc time to get men back and stop any space being created. Pretty joined-up footie but with little end-product.

Sam Hoare
18   Posted 15/08/2010 at 13:47:49

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Slow start again but lets not overreact. A hugely dissappointing performance but there are plenty of good teams that will lose points this season at Ewood Park.

We had over 55% of possesion and 5 attempts on target to their 1. I know that doesn't necessarily mean much but on another day something might have dropped and we would be saying 1-1 is reasonable.

Get behind the team and I'm confident of an improved performance and result against Wolves.
Stephen Kenny
19   Posted 15/08/2010 at 14:06:28

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Chris.,

Saha behind Cahill? You want that to be our forward line?
Mike McLean
20   Posted 15/08/2010 at 14:08:14

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All rather spineless, really. Only God in His infinite wisdom knows how Rodwell isn't worthy of a starting place.

I've tried and I've failed to understand how a good bloke like Moyes, who is terribly well paid, can get it so wrong with selections, and hang about so long when it's bleedingly obvious it ain't working.

Has our underwhelming selection of friendlies in the pre-season had its deadly affect again?
Mike Gwyer
21   Posted 15/08/2010 at 14:20:24

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Mike (№ 19)

I am led to believe that Moyes is extremely subborn, add this to all the good media the guy gets and basically he must think he can do no wrong.

Moyes may have had a bit of a wake-up call playing his much loathed "Osman on the right" card otherwise we will have to wait for an injury which moves Osman to another position or (better still) Osman is injured and someone, who can actually play footy, stay on his feet and has pace slots in.
Terry McLavey
22   Posted 15/08/2010 at 15:02:19

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On the bright side, remember when Jags played that shocking back pass (I think it was against Villa) and that striker cut in and scored? Correct me if I'm wrong but after that I think we got our fingers out and had a good run. Sadly, it always seems we have to be motivated by a balls-up or going behind, although I admit that wasn't the case on Saturday when we had both!!! Anyway, early days, if we stuff Wolves all this will be forgotten(?). COYB.
Brendan O'Doherty
23   Posted 15/08/2010 at 15:59:36

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I agree with your point Ken that we need a quality striker. Saha is great in flashes, but not against a side like Blackburn, who marked him out of the game. Beckford is a nice asset, but we can't rely on him to make the step up immediately.

If it means having to sell the Yak to (part?) finance this, so be it. I suspect that DM has something up his sleeve.
Chris Butler
24   Posted 15/08/2010 at 17:14:44

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Stephen for a long time Cahill was our top scorer. Cahill is 1 of the best players in the premiership for being on the end of crosses. Saha is the only play in our team that can play neat little passes. We got to Wembley, produced excellent performances in the derbies and finished 5th with Cahill up front so why change a successful system. Personally I would rather someone who will work his arse off and frightens defenders up front than lazy Yakubu or the unproven Beckford. Cahill as his name suggests goes missing far too many times when played in midfield.
Christopher Arellano
25   Posted 16/08/2010 at 00:37:33

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Great report, thanks very much.

Win or lose, I'm a faithful reader.
Iain Love
26   Posted 16/08/2010 at 09:13:40

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Agree with Mark 15, Distibution from the back aint there when Heitinga aint there.
Blackburn can deal all day with long clearences and launch there own attacks based on that , which means we're playing their way not ours.
We've been a nervous team for a good while now and dont seem to click when things aren't going right , unless we have people out there who can do a captains job , Pip has done so in the past but for my money Johnny does it better.
I'm not saying if Heitinga was playing we would have won, but i think his distribution and leadership qualities could have made a big difference.
Osman on the right doesn't work Beckford and Gueye both have pace and might be worth a look at out there, not to mention Coleman .
If Felliani aint match fit use Rodwell from the off , Blackburn played a young lad who had a cracking game, if your good enough your old enough.
Richard Parker
27   Posted 16/08/2010 at 11:00:08

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In all honesty, is this such a surprise?

Blackburn lost only 3 times at home last season.... they are well known to be physical and tough to break down...

We didn't play well, no arguments here. Although most of the 2nd half was played in their half, we couldn't break through the 9 men stood on their 18-yard line. Had Timmy not made his almighty balls-up, things could have been different.

I can't help but not be overly negative following the result.

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