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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Wigan (H)

By Ken Buckley :  11/12/2010 :  Comments (15) :

Moody Blues give zero – zero Christmas cheer.

The team was texted through from the club and the buzz in our ale house was most audible on receiving the news Saha would play. Now I know you have to play to get form back but is there a time limit on it? The walk to the ground was notable only for the lack of numbers that seemed to be walking that way and at kick off you could see we were on for a low attendance.

We started brightly and very early Cahill was played in and a tap in looked a formality until a last ditch tackle from a Wigan defender both robbed and hurt him.. The half then descended into dross with few chances materialising although at times the Blues played some pretty stuff but all came to nought at the business end so Jags tried some high punts but they were meat and drink for a defensive Wigan side. N’Zogbia was their speedy outlet and Cleverley a creative presence that the Blues did have to watch.

In the absence of much meaningful action I observed Pienaar and Thomas having a private battle and neither seemed to like each other, both got booked and both could have been sent off for second yellows but for a lenient referee. We had fleeting chances Fellaini headed over when well placed and a goal bound header from Rodwell was diverted over by a defender. Pienaar was jeered for not taking a shot on and as far as the first half goes that was about it.

H/T and disillusionment abounded.

The players must have had a talking to as the second half started with much urgency and great cheers were heard for a 20 yarder from Pienaar which the keeper beat away. From more pressure Jags had a stab that was well held by the keeper low down and then in the next action Cahill had sharp chance that he struck wide.
A goal surely was coming as we pressed and pressed and when Pienaar slid a great ball to play Saha in one on one he managed to hit the overworked keeper and a gilt edged chance was gone.

On the hour mark Saha was off and Beckford on to cheers from the faithful. Still no way through could be found. Coleman was a menace down the right skipping past defenders but was woeful when he got into the box and was guilty of two tight angle one on one misses when a look up and pass might have unlocked the door. Pienaar who had taken a bit of a kicking was replaced by Big Vic who was booed each time he touched the ball his contract demands being deemed laughable by the faithful.

At last a decent cross from the right and the trusty head of Cahill beat the keeper all ends up but wouldn’t you just know it as it struck the far post and back out.

Wigan we now incensing the crowd with time wasting tactics and players going down for treatment to break up moves. We continued to attack but Beckford was showing rawness in getting easily played offside to halt promising moves. We have a reputation for scoring late goals but today in truth Wigan were finishing the stronger and Diame (I had to check name for number to report that one) squirmed through our defence and luckily for us scuffed wide and the sub Stam looked to have won it for them but his angled shot was brilliantly palmed wide by Howard.

5 mins. of extra time came and went with the Blues showing little urgency to go for it. One thing I noticed when Wigan were under the cosh and defending set pieces and corners N’Zogbia was always left up on the half way line ready for a quick counter, something I would love to see us do.

Final whistle and boos all around, no singing ‘If yer know yer ‘Istory today’.

Overall a frustrating way to spend a Saturday afternoon that will have to go down as a good day out spoiled by a football match. When looking for a M.O.tM Howard although underworked saved us at the end but my shout goes to Distin who at least was consistent throughout when all others were no more than in and out, it was as if the players suffer mood swings throughout the game.

After today’s game the post match inquest, after almost everyone from Chairman to tea-lady was blamed, the consensus was that no one can put their finger on just what is going wrong and that includes the manager. We have good players who are just not showing form or consistency and not just from game to game but within games as well. Much for manager and players to ponder on methinks.

Today I looked forward to watching the Fellaini/Rodwell pairing as it looked most promising at Chelsea second half but that too left me disappointed as it never seemed to fire in the way I thought it might; still, if they get as much game time as Saha then who knows. I am most disappointed with our strikers this season in fact I don’t think we have one worthy of a start and I do wonder when Arteta is back if the manager would consider Cahill up front? It might just be worth a go as little else seems to have worked this season so far.

Man City away next and on today’s display ‘God help us’ Luckily no two games are the same and a week’s hard training and frank talking may yet spring a surprise at Arab HQ. See you there
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Dick Fearon
1   Posted 11/12/2010 at 22:34:43

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Thanks Ken, from my armchair, that was a pretty good account of proceedings. One thing that struck me was we played an entire first half with everything going down our left side. For all the good he was doing, Coleman may as well have had the afternoon off. Everything was directed toward the left flank where it was coming up against Wigan's best uncompromising defenders.

I won't bother querying why Moyes let the entire first 45 minutes pass by without doing something about it. In fact, I have given up querying anything that dug out coward ever does.

Before the team was announced, we knew that Moyes would play his favourite... sorry ? make that his only unimaginative tactic of 4-5-1.

Moyes complains about missed chances but what would he know about that part of the game? I doubt he scored a goal in his life. Pretty much the same can be said about is coaching panel.

Trevor Lynes
2   Posted 11/12/2010 at 23:27:56

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I believe our tactics are much better suited to playing away and I would not be surprised if we got a draw at City. When we are expected to take the play to the opposition, we struggle... we lack real creativity from midfield with Arteta being played too deep and no-one else can produce that defence-splitting pass from outfield play. So, away from home, we can counter attack and nick a scrambled goal or a set piece.

The one big problem is we only get one point for a draw and the league this season is a lot tighter. Most clubs have improved but we have stood still. Teams know that if they can get to the half-hour mark without us scoring, they can get something at Goodison... Man Utd would have destroyed Wigan!!!

Daniel Johnson
3   Posted 11/12/2010 at 23:41:23

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Look at the Toon today... a club in turmoil, but on the pitch. they attacked, attacked and even when Livepool equalised. they carried on attacking.

Guess what?

They won 3-1.
Ian Smitham
4   Posted 11/12/2010 at 23:38:59

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Ken, another well balanced report. We must be seated near together in the ever colder "Top balcony" where I detected a frostier view of things.

Do you go to every game?
David Hallwood
5   Posted 12/12/2010 at 00:51:49

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Good report, as ever ,Ken. But don't you think it is yet another case of chances not being put away, and at times we were guilty of over elaboration ? Arsenal lite. It will come good, FFS, it must come good... in no way are we a relegation side.

As Trevor Lynes (#2) said, we'll probably get something from the City game, but Moyes must realise that Saha is a busted flush, and next month must bring in a forward.

Derek Thomas
6   Posted 12/12/2010 at 02:39:47

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Daniel Johnson (#3); to be fair, though, on his past record this season, Houghton would have had them playing exactly the same.

David Hallwood (#5); not through anything we are doing. These days, the 40-pt safety barrier is more like 36 or 37, so we are ' technically' statistically on a safe course with an average of 1.059 pts per game. We (the Moyes deniers) were told after 5 games to wait until later in the season, so here we are and our 1.000 pts per game has rocketed up to the dizzy heights we have now.

Saha is a waste of space; yes I/we knew that already but just why in particular? He is no longer a goalscorer, he has handed in physically and mentally that predatory selfishness that the goalscorer needs.

Example, first 5 mins, still fresh mind, a wayward ball was played across the box, it was too far past the keeper who had to leg it.

So maybe Saha was only say 40-60 to get it. Bollocks. The striker instinct, the predator instinct thought process (see Tim on Cech last week) is... ball, chase, chance, goal (?)... ex striker, ex-striker walking (both literally and figuratively) walking the has-been's mile.

Anichebe (1) ? a similar situation happened to Vic about 2 years ago, that was when the jury was still out on him. Well, that was enough to convince me... Potential striker, wannabe striker, never-will-be striker walking the failure's mile.

At the time of his last 'bust up', someone called him a no-mark 'Johnny Bigtime'... fast rorward to now and his rejection of £30k.... so add to that, sullen, bad attitude, shit for brains, Johnny Bigtime.

Strangely enough;

Anichebe (2) ? bear with me, for a player like Beckford to score 4 parts of the process need to be spot on:

(a) the vision, well how hard can it be if a no-mark like Anichebe can spot them (which he did)...

(b) harder, the timing; well give him his due, Johnny bigtime did get it right...

(c) the onside-offside lark; this is sometime out of the strikers hands, he can be on side only for the linesman to get it wrong, as they all too often seem to (memo to linesmen, when it's kicked, dummy ? NOT when it gets there)...

(d) the execution; sometimes it's in the lap of the Gods and even the best stuff up. But the more chances you get the more, on average, you will score.

Same old same old from (D) our Davie (jings, crivens, see you, I will tell you this, the noo) Moyes.

Nay say the naysayers... well, just what has the Yak done to piss on his chips so badly?

Jim Hourigan
7   Posted 12/12/2010 at 05:38:50

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Far too lenient, Ken, on both the players and the manager. Something is wrong that is reflected in the attitude of the players and their general malaise.

Tactically, Moyes has one way of playing that gave him a modicum of success in terms of making us hard to defeat. Opposition teams would say we were difficult to play against and were always fighting, but did anyone ever say we were threatening or a good attacking team? And here in lies the problem ? Moyes does not know how to set up a team to win a game when the expectation of a win is on us. His one-dimensional tactics with one-dimensional team selection no longer works and, for all the millions he is payed, he cannot see it himself.

Once again, we play a lone off-form striker to accommodate his system, a system that revolves entirely around playing Cahill. Yes, he may be our leading scorer, but is he that good that the whole tactics are based on him playing as this psuedo striker? To suggest he should be our lone striker is just plain nonsense, Ken.

Tim is just not a forward and if you actually watch his movement, touch, passing and general contribution to our play with a neutral reflective eye, you will see a limited if wholehearted player. He is no Lampard or Gerrard who makes things happen as well as scoring goals, he just waits for the right cross around 10 yards out. His contribution outside of this is minimal.

Heresy to some, but I think him going off in January will force Moyes to pick a different system and possibly one that involves 2 attackers and 4 midfield players charged with feeding them correctly. A system that might actually make us attack teams and not just avoid getting beat. However, I do fear he will revert to type and stick Felli up front 'cos he's big' in order to stick with his system. Moyes must change his tactics or go.

Roman Sidey
8   Posted 12/12/2010 at 06:03:07

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I don't care what Moyes did 5/6 years ago getting in 4th. We got that on the efforts in the first half of the season ? 3 wins in the 2nd half of the season, and until the second half of last season hadn't really lived up to a team that had a growing/improving squad.

I think giving him that massive contract 2 years ago is killing us as that can be the only reason he has still got the job.

I would rank him as 20th best manager in the EPL at the moment. Don't know where he'd show up if we ranked all the managers from the whole football league.

Tony Cheek
9   Posted 12/12/2010 at 07:12:08

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Once again Louis "one-shot-a-game" Saha gets the nod . How many chances does this boring fart get.
I know that when Beckford is bad he is embarrasingly bad , but the lad scored last week FFS , surely that one goal should have been the catalyst for a start for a few games.
But no! Lets knock the confidence out of him again , put him on the bench , or he might think he is better than he really is ,....Now we dont want that now do we !!!
MOYES ..ITS HAT AND COAT TIME !!!!
Dave Richman
10   Posted 12/12/2010 at 09:14:00

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Jim Hourigan (#7): You beat me to it there... I was sitting on the bog a few minutes ago thinking about our beloved team, and that exact thought struck me ? could it be that Talisman Tim is actually the problem here?

I'm not advocating it (before I am excommunicated), but it does appear that the whole side is set up around him, and results show that it just ain't working. Sad.
Brian Waring
11   Posted 12/12/2010 at 09:24:50

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"It will come good." There lies one of the problems, David, we seem to be saying that too often.

"In no way are we a relegation side."
David, the table doesn't lie, we are there, because we deserve to be there.
David Hallwood
12   Posted 12/12/2010 at 13:07:13

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Sorry to disagree with you Brian (#11), but I've seen enough shite running around in blue shirts to recognise a team that's in dire straights. You obviously wern't there to witness the hidings we used to get from the Sky Four... and eveyone else for that matter. And it wasn't just the scoreline ? we were regularly outplayed in every department.

Our next game is Citteh, now I'm not expecting anything out of the game, but I can't see us getting dominated all over the park, it's just that Citteh have a great defence and at the moment, we've got strikers that don't ? if you see what I mean.

But if Citteh outplay us the way they comprehensively outplayed West Ham, then the alarm bells will start ringing.
Brian Waring
13   Posted 12/12/2010 at 13:26:38

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David, I've seen my fair share of shite Everton sides, but 3 wins out of 17, 3 pts from a possible 15 at home against Wigan, Bolton, West Brom, Newcastle and Wolves, a massive 33 pts dropped from a possible 51 pts, for me, says alarm bells should well and truly be ringing.
Jamie Sweet
14   Posted 12/12/2010 at 20:20:22

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Brian #13... if those stats aren't enough to show it's time for a change, I don't know what is! It's shocking. I'm sure Walter Smith had a better home record than that ffs!
KPR Williams
15   Posted 13/12/2010 at 12:27:28

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#3 Daniel Johnson

Is that you singing the praises of the Geordies again... ?

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