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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Newcastle (A)

By Ken Buckley :  05/03/2011 :  Comments (20) :

Blues bounce back

Football never ceases to amaze as we fans sway between agony and ecstasy as our team sways between sweet and sour with no real sane reason or explanation. After the cup debacle, our chances of an away win at Newcastle seemed slim but, on receiving the team text, I perked up as it looked a real battling line-up. With Beckford being the only real inexperienced player at the top level, the rest were tried and tested in the Blue battling stakes, so I expected Blue blood and sweat to be expended; in the main, I was not disappointed.

Injuries were shared equally between the teams so no advantage gained or lost as we locked horns on a cold but sunny afternoon. With only 30 secs gone, Neville was left in a heap clutching his ribs but, after treatment, was able to resume. It was a scrappy opening but the Blues seemed the brighter and had more of the play, so it came as something of a shock when Newcastle?s first real sortie forward resulted in a free kick which was taken quickly and seemed to catch us off-guard as the ball went left and within three passes the odious Nolan shot from a tight angle; Howard could only parry away and such was our disarray, Best found himself all alone in the box and stooped to conquer.

A real body blow... but, after a bit of despondency, the faithful roared into life and the players responded. Hibbo put in the reducer on Gutierrez and was booked, Arteta and Osman started to have influence and, on the half-hour mark, Osman broke from the halfway line, found Arteta and continued his run into the box. Arteta from the left cut in and then fed Osman with a peach of a pass for Osman to fire home with some aplomb. Players and fans were happy.

We were just digesting this when Arteta was fouled out left and Baines stepped up and put in a waist high curving free-kick that went between the defensive line and the keeper right to the back post where Jags was powering in and he poked the ball home. All were now very happy. That kick looked as though it was straight from the training ground.

With Osman and Arteta coming both inside and out, and being creative, we were bossing the midfield and their prompting gave Beckford a few runs on goal but it wouldn?t be us without a scare as, on the death of the first half, their centre-back poked wide when well placed. Heart in mouth time.

Half-time and the chat centred on what the second half might bring, such has been our inconsistency this season.

Newcastle started off like a house on fire and sub Ameobi tested Howard twice within a minute then, after another attack, I noticed Neville on the deck. He left the field holding the back of his thigh, looks like another ?hammy?; Heitinga replaced him and Jags took the armband.

The rest of the half was gripping in its own way, Newcastle had the majority of possession and Everton the majority of the clear chances. If Beckford had been able to master hold-up play and lay-off, on at least two occasions we might have profited; Saha, although looking fit and sharp, was guilty of poor finishing ? one that sticks in the mind was when Arteta sliced through their defence and plonked the ball right on Saha?s head only for him to head over with goal gaping.

Newcastle were attacking with regularity but a combination of good tackling and desperate blocks kept them at arm?s length. We broke when we could and always looked the more likely. Rodwell played one up to Saha and his lay off header was perfect and into the path of Beckford but his shot was at the keeper with plenty of the goal available. Beckford then got put in right side of the box and his goal-bound shot across the keeper was superbly tipped away for a corner.

On 70 mins, Beckford was replaced by Anichebe and he took to the field accompanied by a cacophony of abuse from the home fans. All to do with the legal action against the odious red one. It wasn?t long before they clashed with Nolan seeming to kick him to the ground, Vic retaliated and both were booked.

With quarter of an hour to go Arteta had a great chance to seal it but stabbed wide from close in. Newcastle continued to attack but we were defending with spirit and quick to break and Anichebe who was mostly raiding from the left was put in at least three times but looked less than convincing when it came to execution. Then Newcastle scored... or so we thought... but, before depression could set in, it became obvious that it had been ruled out and we had a free-kick.

As the game entered the last knockings, we gave away a couple of soft free kicks, one on right on the edge which hit the wall and caused an almighty melee but somehow it was hacked away. Coleman replaced Osman who had a great game today and he was given a resounding send off from the faithful.

5 mins of injury time and more desperate defending, interspersed with some neat breaks... but both Anichebe and Coleman lacked the nous to make the most of the run-down-the-clock art.

MotM: For me, it was take your pick from Arteta, Osman and Jags.

Overall, a good rollicking game to watch and so much better with a win. I thought today the manager got team and tactics right, he found a way to win. Now, if he can just find a way to improve on our finishing, we will be a whole different team.

Neville joins the injured so that?s not good news considering squad strength with games coming thick and fast. Coleman is a bit of a mystery to me. He came on the scene and excited us with fast direct running confusing defences and to be truthful his team-mates too; lately, he appears to have changed his game and looks the poorer for it. I also wonder if hypnotism might help Anichebe to make things happen rather expecting them to happen and then whinge when they don?t.

Rodwell did a good job today; maybe his passing at times was a bit off but being able to look down on the game he did some tremendous work filling holes and closing down avenues all across the pitch and drove forward when he could. Some of his covering work and getting a foot in reminded me a little of Bracewell today. Hibbert did ok to, it was the type of game where his defensive doggedness was required, he also got in two great crosses.

Birmingham on Wednesday and almost certainly it will be a whole different type of game... but, with today?s application from both management and player,s one we should achieve 3 league wins on the bounce ? now that would be nice.

A note for Beckford. Set off for the ground on Monday morning!
See you there

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Andy Crooks
1   Posted 06/03/2011 at 01:01:21

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Excellent, Ken. Don't Everton have a way of making you look stupid. I said earlier that Bily should take the place of Arteta who looked in need of a rest. Then, Arteta has his best game of the season. This Everton team are an enigma.
James Flynn
2   Posted 06/03/2011 at 02:30:03

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Always a good read. Interesting your take on Rodwell, when there's been moaning about his performance today in other ToffeeWeb threads.
Andy McNabb
3   Posted 06/03/2011 at 03:35:45

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Thanks, Ken. Excellent post, as usual.

Thankfully Mr Hyde stayed away today but I'm finding it difficult to remember a season where I was as confused in my predictions.

Maybe in truth we are simply a reflection of the league as a whole. When was the last time the bottom placed team had 27 points with 10 games to go? We have all taken points off each other this year and I can't see the magic 40 points total providing a safety net for anyone this year.

I actually think we may play better now we have our backs to the wall and injury problems galore. We genuinely seem to struggle when everyone is fit and expectations are raised.

As long as Moyesie has to make his Henry V Agincourt speech we seem to be OK but as soon as we try to run from the front we invariably fall over.

I'm certainly not brave enough to predict the result of the Birmingham game but as soon as we demand a win against supposed 'inferior' opposition we will come unstuck. Forget Europe ? we first need to stay in this league.
Derek Thomas
4   Posted 06/03/2011 at 07:36:14

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Pretty much spot on Ken.

Hibbo looked at 6s and 7s for the first half hour and the 3rd time they got in between the fullback and centre back they scored. But improved as he got his eye in.

Arteta had his best game of the season, with Osman running him a close second.

Baines, either by accident or design was not the maurading menace he usually is, but sometimes I suppose he has to remember he's a fullback.

Neville and Rodwell were unspectacular but effective enough.

Saha and Beckford. Saha you can see he is a class act but it just didn't come off for him, we got the hat-trick but it was a hat-trick of misses. Beckford you can see he's raw and learning, could've had 1 but for the keeper's fingers and had all the goal to aim at and (as so often happens to even better than him) put a good shot at the keeper.

Anichebe; was put in behing a ragged Newcastle defence by Saha was it 3 or 4 times... ffs SHOOT!!

3-6 was not out of the question as a final score

Everton eh? As the old saying goes... 'If you can't take a joke, then you shouldn't have joined.'
Albert Perkins
5   Posted 06/03/2011 at 07:59:01

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Glad that Jags got one today. In the early games this season, he was really unlucky not to get a few from corners.

Playing Arteta in the Pienaar role was successful, although there wasn't the link up with Baines there could have been. Maybe it will come if Moyes keeps him on the left. Arteta is further up the field and able to cut inside for shots and passes, especially if Baines runs decoy up the wing.

I'm not a Moyes hater, but playing Anichebe makes me wonder .... what are you thinking? It's not as if he hasn't had a chance to show what he's got.

Ian Tunstead
6   Posted 06/03/2011 at 10:34:32

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I've been wanting to see Arteta play on the left for some time now and he didn't disappoint, he was excellent. I can't remember him giving the ball away once during the game. He made all the right decisions at the right times. Even Osman looked impressive going forward but still useless defensively, getting left for dead every time their LM had a run, Hibbo covered him well for most of it though.

The most frustrating parts of the game was Beckford's first touch when he has his back to goal, he gave the ball away almost everytime. The rest of the players should be told to only play it in front of him to run onto because that is his strength. Anichebe was also infuriating, sometimes doing all the hard work but not looking up and either miskicking it or passing it to no-one. He needs to be told to cut inside and run across the defender instead of giving himself impossible angles to shoot from.
Tony McNulty
7   Posted 06/03/2011 at 10:58:22

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I wouldn?t describe myself as his greatest fan, he?s hardly a combination of the best qualities of Drogba, Messi, and Pele, but why the great antipathy towards Anichebe from so many people on Toffeeweb? What has he done to alienate so many? Was it the alleged to-ing and fro-ing over his contract? Is it the way he throws himself around (mostly in the supine position, I know)? Is it because of a tendency to underrate the local boys? Is it because he said, to hoots of laughter from some, he modelled himself on Drogba?

And if you do bother to respond, can you please avoid the, ?cos he?s fucking useless?, type of responses which don?t really say much. After all, down the years we have had other players who would have fallen into the ?CHFU? category, and they never seem to generate the heat that Anichebe does.

Ernie Baywood
8   Posted 06/03/2011 at 11:08:34

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Funny old game isn't it? As a fanbase we've criticised the team for lacking pace, then put in our best performance for a little while without any real pace in the side. The fact is, get 10 yards clear of your man and they won't catch you over 100 - that's even true for Ossie.

Enjoyed the game yesterday (despite dreading it) and we really should have put a gloss on the scoreline. I'm not getting carried away for two reasons, though:

1) Newcastle were dire. Their midfield (its a generous term for what they had) left gaping holes. Not one of them is really an out and out midfielder and if I were a Geordie today I'd be feeling pretty pissed off at that performance.

and

2) This team have shown that when it counts, they crumble. Traditionally when the pressure is off we start playing and even a great run of results now won't change that. No result gives me optimism because there's nothing to be optimistic about with this team. Europa is still a chance but I'm sure that if we put ourselves in the running then we'll very quickly put ourselves out of the race.

But I enjoyed the game. Well played Blues!
Ernie Baywood
9   Posted 06/03/2011 at 11:14:52

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Tony ? I think it's because he has all the attributes but without any of the application. I can't help but dislike that.
Colin Malone
10   Posted 06/03/2011 at 11:33:26

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Rodwell did a good job today; maybe his passing at times was a bit off but being able to look down on the game he did some tremendous work filling holes and closing down avenues all across the pitch and drove forward when he could. Some of his covering work and getting a foot in reminded me a little of Bracewell today.

Ken. Just like Bracewell, Horne, Carsley, Parkinson. If we can get a consistant player in the holding role, it will make a massive, massive difference.
Andy Peers
11   Posted 06/03/2011 at 14:28:56

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Tony, the way I rate Anchebe is that he is ineffective, has poor attitude, and it's like playing with 10 men. It's not that I hate him personally but I do hate him being in the team for the above reasons. This, I am sure, is probably the reason he is dogged by so many on here and why it translates into antipathy against him.
Howard Don
12   Posted 06/03/2011 at 15:18:17

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Good point Tony (7). Vic enraged me last Tuesday aginst Reading mostly by seemingly being unable to head the ball even in the easiest of situations. Thinking about it after the game he's never been or looked like a world beater but he did used to play OK at times and seemed to have potential (although nothing like as much as Vaughan).

I think what is getting to most people is the constant whinging if decisions don't go his way instead of getting on with it. Likewise if something doesn't go for him he stops and looks disgusted and sulks instead of chasing back or whatever. Got sent off for stupidity against City after a not bad performance and left us to hang on with 10 men. Same could have happened yesterday when Nolan went for the obvious wind up given recent history and Vic fell for it hook line and sinker.

So for me he's not as bad a player as he looks right now, but his attitude is all wrong and he'll never get to be a better player until he gets his head right.
David Hallwood
13   Posted 06/03/2011 at 15:22:19

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Agree with Andy (#11); over the years I've seen great players with an attitude problem or have been lazy, and I've seen not very talented players that make up for it with honest endeavour, but with Anchebe we've got the worst of both worlds: no skill, and probably THE worst attitude I've ever seen from a player. He's got lower league written all over him, yet the way the club is at the minute he's been given an opportunity to stake a claim and all he does is walk round like a petulant 12-year-old.
Dave Wilson
14   Posted 06/03/2011 at 16:36:44

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Vic fucked up yesterday when he went past a man and completely missed his cross but, other than that, despite being heavily involved he didn't give the ball away once, his play down the left resulted in THREE guilt edged opportunities that were all missed by other players. Yet he still gets more abuse than Jamie Carragher, Stephen Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and shithouse Nolan put together.
Gerry Quinn
15   Posted 06/03/2011 at 16:53:00

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When Vic came on in the Europa League matches, his attitude and application were excellent ? remember the way he used to do a Coleman ? head down, barge through players, go straight for goal and score. Since the injury and since the on-off of the contract, Vic has gone backwards and his all round game seems to suffer. He is his own worst enemy.

If Moyes were to sit Vic in front of the telly and show him how promising he used to be and then show the sulky, whingey attitude of late, hopefully Vic would learn quickly how he should apply his aggresiveness.

Andy Peers
16   Posted 06/03/2011 at 20:42:50

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Gerry,
Surely Moyes should have done that already! That is part of a manager's job to motivate and improve his players.
Gerry Quinn
17   Posted 07/03/2011 at 02:34:33

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Andy, if Moysie has, and I believe you are correct in your assumption, then maybe he needs to do it again asap and also SLAP Vic on the back of his head to pay attention and take it in. :)
Derek Thomas
18   Posted 07/03/2011 at 07:09:47

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Dave Wilson was it 3 or 4 times he was put through on the left hand corner of the box??

Q) What did the self-confessed right-footed Droghba wannabie do???
A) He didn't do the bleedin obvious, that's what!

He didn't do the simple thing... HE DIDN'T CUT IN... aka shit for brains

It must have been 2 years now since someone with a gift for the bon mot labelled him 'Johnny Bigtime'... He has, IMO, picked up bad habits while away with his brief flirtation with the Nigerian squad.

I'm sure the Jewellers window episode didn't help his attitude.

So what have we....Angry Young man? Rebel without a clue?

Me/some of us: "You're a bit of a rebel, aren't you? What are you rebelling about ?'

Vic: "What you got?"
Ernie Baywood
19   Posted 07/03/2011 at 12:51:56

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I agree - he was poor in some incredibly good positions.

Little mention for Johnny Heitinga. That daft moment at the end when he ignored the two options to his left and tried to run through the middle with about a minute to go. Would have been livid if that had cost us... brainless, individual, selfish, careless stuff. He's lucky that didn't become a major issue although I suspect he doesn't give a fuck anyway.
Tommy Gourlay
20   Posted 07/03/2011 at 14:11:43

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Victor has a lot of good attributes but I feel his biggest weakness is his in ability to see a run (his biggest weakness is Beckford's biggest strength). Opposing defenders anticipate and spot the balls being played on for him, and when he isn't alive to these ? due to his inability before you even bring desire into the equation ? it makes him look even lazier, and this has just snowballed and made him feel down.

There's no big-name player I can't think of off the top of my head that needs/needed the ball to feet for this same reason.

I think this means that our players need to play balls to his feet with this consideration in mind ? in the same way people feel the players need to think about playing balls into space for Beckford to get on to.

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