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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: WBA (A)

By Ken Buckley :  14/05/2011 :  Comments (31) :

New shirts ? Same flaws

We took to the field resplendent in our new ?Old Gold? away top safe in the knowledge we had little or nothing to play for; with the Baggies in the same boat, we got an open game but, despite lots of talk from players during the week, nothing was produced to set pulses racing. Both sides created plenty of chances but the execution was almost non-existent. The one goal that was scored was the result of real dodgy defending rather than any exhilarating move.

There was a party atmosphere about the place which was typified by Scharner having his hair dyed Everton blue and white. Is he looking for a move? Also, their tormentor in chief Odemwingie was presented with a Player of the Month award from Barclays.

It was Odemwingie who had the first chance when a ball over the top saw both Distin and Jags look less than comfortable and the striker raced on but thankfully for us fired into the side netting. We did not learn the lesson as, on the 10 min mark, Brunt tried a similar ball over the top which Odemwingie again raced for, caught Distin wrong side and then left Jags on his backside and squared for Mulumbu to tap home. The sort of defending that gives managers and fans nightmares.

Chances came and went at both ends as the half rambled on. Big Vic burst into life and spun superbly in the box leaving him one-on-one with the keeper but, like a lot of our one-on-ones this season, he hit the keeper?s leg with the ball and got only a corner. Then Howard made a great save by tipping a Brunt free kick over the bar.

Strangely the crowd went quiet for a while... even though both teams took it in turns to attack; perhaps it was the fact an end product looked unlikely with each sortie that dampened the crowd?s ardour. Then some chances occurred and looked promising: Heitinga headed narrowly wide from a Coleman cross when better was expected... then, at the other end, Jags and Distin got in a mess again and Thomas skipped around Howard and shot at what he thought was an empty net but the alert Hibbert had read the situation expertly and cleared from the line. Howard then made a great point-blank stop from a Odemwingie header. It was then Carson?s turn to deny Big Vic who had got his head to a great cross from Hibbert and the keeper turned it away diving low.

Half-time and it felt like an end-of-season game when no-one really talked about the game but more of what should be done for next season. The opinions on that one if recounted here would run to about the same number of pages as ?War and Peace?...

Second half and no changes saw the first action being Neville getting a yellow card for a late tackle.

Where the first half had been open, the second started and continued in tighter fashion. Everton were on top;  from a right wing corner taken by Arteta, the ball went right across the area and found Osman unmarked but, after bringing the ball down, his hurried shot went high and wide. We then had another boring patch so I looked around to see if the protest scarf had resonated with away fans... but I saw none.

Then Neville had a shot and an appeal for a penalty when the ball seemed to be handled by Scharner; the Ref would have none of it... Just a little later, Arteta had a fierce shot blocked in a crowded box. Hibbert, who was having a steady game, was felled by Thomas, who was booked; then the manager took off the unimpressive Coleman and replaced him with Beckford. "Ah... 4-4-2," I thought... but no: Big Vic went right and 4-5-1 it stayed.

Scharner then had a good chance when he headed a cross to the far post into the side-netting; he could have done better. Maybe Hibbert?s last-ditch dive in put him off. We forced a corner and Arteta fired it in and Jags headed over. We had chances and territorial advantage yet never really looked like scoring... so, on the 70-min mark, the manager took off Neville and introduced Bilyaletdinov, who should have done much better when Hibbert put in another good cross but the Russian fired well over from no more than 10 yards.

We hardly had time to say hello to the Russian and berate him for his prolificacy when he got himself sent off for a rash late lunge. From my seat, I thought it was a bit harsh.

With 10 mins to go, the manager sent Rodwell on for Big Vic who had visibly tired after putting in a decent shift in the trying department. Nothing really happened even with 4 mins of added time... except for the stadium announcer to inform the home fans not to come onto the pitch and let the players do their end-of-season wave to the crowd. MotM ? Hibbert; at least he was steady and got forward and delivered some good crosses while others quite frankly disappointed me today.

Overall I thought a lack-lustre performance from players and fans as all seemed ready for the beach, to put a poor season behind us. Chelsea next week and another game with nothing on it; no one will want to get injured so we will have to make our own fun and hopefully enjoy the day out and hope for some hope in the transfer window, a good pre-season, and a better start to next season...

See you there!
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Brendan O'Doherty
1   Posted 15/05/2011 at 03:57:49

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Le Tiss on SSN was adamant that there was no contact in the Bily challenge and that the West Brom player play-acted in order to get him a red card.

Having now seen it, thought it was a yellow a worst.

Defensively poor today, but like so many times this season if we had a striker who could actually finish we could have won that game and certainly would not have lost it.

What we were doing playing West Brom in a Wolves kit I will never know.
Dave Wilson
2   Posted 15/05/2011 at 07:12:51

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Getting to away games is time consuming enough, but to come back and give fair and accurate account of the day`s events at the level of consistency you have maintained all season is just remarkable. I really dont know how you do it Ken, but TW`ers dotted around the globe must be so glad you do. You`re a credit to this site, a great Evertonian
Derek Thomas
3   Posted 15/05/2011 at 08:08:03

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Short version: Poor plan A, no plan B, From a man, who after 10yrs, still doesn't know what his best 11 is
Steven Pendleton
4   Posted 15/05/2011 at 08:50:28

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Hibbert best player? Fuck, no wonder we lost. Gives nothing going forward and when he occasionally does is so fucking predictable. While he and a few others (Neville, Anichebe) are in our starting eleven we can kiss any top four aspirations goodbye. I don't buy into this 'puts in a good shift and is a professional'. Fuck that, we need some class and imagination in our fucking team.

In saying that, any creative player with a bit of flair doesn't fit into Moyes' master plan which is defend, defend, defend and oh yeh, pinch a goal. When will this season end? I'm over it.
John Ford
5   Posted 15/05/2011 at 10:37:29

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Yeh Steven we'll do that when we get some investment. Until then, Moyes will never have a team of 11 able to make a sustained challenge.

Thankfully a proportionate and accurate review KB, as per norm. Cheers.
Paul Gladwell
6   Posted 15/05/2011 at 10:35:03

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I thought Hibbert was shite to be honest; I cannot wait for this season to be over ? and I have been saying that since September, is that what paying thousands each year is meant to be about?

We can harp on about not having the funds like the teams above us, but there is no excuse for the team he put out again yesterday, I am just sick of his negative boring ways.

Like thousands of others, I will dust myself down spend hours trawling the internet hoping we sign someone during the next few months, listen to the club sell us lies about the player we just sold as he wanted to leave, and ? come August ? kid myself with a "just maybe" thought.

Sadly though, until Moyes gathers some balls or appoints someone in his backroom staff who knows something about attacking, nothing will change and we shall be having these same old arguements again this time next year.

Paul Gladwell
7   Posted 15/05/2011 at 10:48:34

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John it was not investment that cost us this year, it was the poor performance of the manager and players like Arteta in the first half of the season. We dropped so many points at home to shite like West Ham, Wolves, Newcastle, and Wigan as well as getting kicked out both cups by lower league teams. All those teams don't have a squad anywhere near as good as ours and three of those have been in a relegation battle.
Dick Fearon
8   Posted 15/05/2011 at 11:20:51

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Paul (#7) ? At long last, someone with the same views as myself. It took 10 years for Moyes to create a team that reflects his dour outlook. At West Brom it was abundantly clear that he succeeded in that regard.

Having coached the players for so many years (in some cases their entire professional careers) there should be no need for his his touchline screaming of advice to players.

Steve Edwards
9   Posted 15/05/2011 at 12:12:38

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Anybody can make a mistake but to keep on making the same mistakes time and time again. Moyes was lucky to get out of jail last week after picking a team totally lacking in attacking options. Did he learn by this? No. He goes and does the same thing again.

He may keep us in the Premier League but we'll never win anything with him, that's for sure. He who dares wins... so it's no wonder you've won nothing, Davey.

Paul Gladwell
10   Posted 15/05/2011 at 12:20:51

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I just think the man is too stubborn to change, Dick. Everyone knows his flaws but himself. I have noticed Kendall in his Echo column having indirect digs at him, last Friday he was commenting about playing two holding midfielders against City, the same shout every Evertonian was screaming last week, so what does he do in a meaningless game against shite like West Brom?

I understand people not wanting him to leave as he is a safe option, and I am in that category, but maybe a change would refresh us all because going the game has never been so grim for me. I include all those dark days, in that we had an excuse in those days with the players and money we had, but this year that squad was good enough and, the first half of the season, they all wanted shooting ? and the manager is included in that.

Richard Dodd
11   Posted 15/05/2011 at 12:27:24

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My thanks too,for Ken's sterling efforts throughout the season.I sometimes think he 'puts in more of a shift' than some of our players and is a model of consistency they'd do well to replicate!
David Hallwood
12   Posted 15/05/2011 at 13:12:45

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Great report as ever, Ken. You should offer your services to the national papers because you put their reporting to shame.

Paul & Dick #7&8 it has everything to do with investment. The latter part of last season when we had Donovan on the right and a fired up Saha, I watched an Everton side beat the top sides (and should've beaten Arsenal at the Emirates) not by plucky two banks of four, get into their faces football, but by outplaying them. In between that I watched us hammer the lesser teams, the only blemish being the derby and the defeat by Sporting Lisbon. It was akin to watching that great side of the 80s evolve from boys to men in 18 months.

Now I'm not the only one that observed this and how the performances dropped off once Donovan left, and the only conclusion to be drawn is that a specialist wide player should be on the shopping for close season and back up to Saha, if we were going to progress and have a go at a Champions League spot, and the £30 mill that comes with it.

Moyes was not given a penny to spend, in fact, it is obvious that he was told to get players off the wages bill by loaning them out, with the inevitable consequences of a make-do-and-mend philosophy that we are witnessing. To my mind, this is worse than the Carl Tiler, Scott Gemmill days because any board member with a modicum of footballing nouse would realise that wholesale changes would be needed to turn the club around at that time, whereas a comparatively modest transfer budget might had paid for itself (and this doesn?t factor in the ?Donovan effect? in which his merchandise would have got a long way to financing the deal, and the Everton board was found to be not fit for purpose (and no I?m not talking about doing a Leeds).

We all moan at the dour defensive style, but Moyes is a cautious manager, and given an ample budget wouldn?t necessarily change his football outlook but we would be at least 10-15 points better off than we are at present.
Paul Gladwell
13   Posted 15/05/2011 at 13:43:53

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David, it's about finance to win the league but It was not about finance in the first half of the season, dropping points against so many lesser teams at home. So many players where piss poor and our crab football which was allegedly influenced by Arteta from his early Barca schooling was the reason for that and that lies with the manager. If we had been more adventurous at home against these teams we would be in Europe now.

Our squad is as good as the Shite's and not as good as Spurs but we had an advantage of playing around 12 games less than them due to them being in Europe; we should have pressed them two more but we never, due to the Artetas and Sahas of this world who were piss-poor up until January.

We all expected better and the only players who performed ok where a couple of defenders and Osman for a few months.

Paul Gladwell
14   Posted 15/05/2011 at 14:10:53

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And you can feel sorry for Moyes having no money last year, but this is the man who turned down £6M for the Yak and now we are asking £2M for him which we will be lucky to get.
Chris Butler
15   Posted 15/05/2011 at 15:08:07

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I'm sick of Moyes and Kenwright. Yes, he's done well. But these negative dull performances are just not acceptable. We are always last on MotD, we have nobody capable of passing, nobdy capable of taking on defenders, and nobody capable of scoring that many goals.

I refuse to pay any money towards the club while the likes or Rodwell, Heitinga and Arteta are there. They're all on large salaries yet their performances are pathetic. Bring in Donovan, Barton and a striker. I'm like many Evertonians ? just tired of the same old story. He'll never learn.

John Ford
16   Posted 15/05/2011 at 15:45:57

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Paul, every team including the cash rich clubs drop points against 'lesser' teams. The reason they do so less often than us is they have better squads to provide cover when players form drops. This and of course as a general rule they are able to buy better players in the first place.

Arteta hasn't been the same since coming back from injury. No blame to him or Moyes there, it just happens. The problem is we have no-one else of his quality to replace him. Man Utd have four or five central midfielders of a consistently high quality to step in. Chelsea likewise. We just cant compete. It's even worse when you look at good quality forwards, Tottenham have Defoe as their back-up... Jeezus! Liverpool spent big time and fixed their striking problem almost overnight.

We're trying to mount a credible challenge on loose change. Moyes is operating in an impossible environment.
John Ford
17   Posted 15/05/2011 at 16:05:50

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But I agree ? not selling Yak was a mistake.
David Hallwood
18   Posted 15/05/2011 at 16:30:24

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But Paul (#13) ? if Moyes had been able to bring in-say four quality players, points may not have been dropped because we would have had players on the bench ready to step in for under performing players. And I stress that not being able to bring in a quality striker or at least a striker that could make a difference has cost us dear.
Rahman Talib
19   Posted 15/05/2011 at 16:38:31

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DAMN THEM TO HELL!!!!!
Rahman Talib
20   Posted 15/05/2011 at 16:44:30

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I think we should field our Academy players that won the U-18 League Trophy against Chelski. They'd give Chelsea a run for their money, I am sure.
Chris Bannantyne
21   Posted 15/05/2011 at 17:26:34

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I don't care what anybody says, this game was entirely predictable. From the starting 11, to the subs that were made, to the result.

I knew we'd lose this game, and I knew it would be down to the poor performance of the manager in regards to the line-up and formation and style of play, just about the only thing I didn't see coming was the red to Bilyaletdinov.

I have been an admirer of Moyes in the past, but this season above all others previously, I feel he has really stuffed up. His decisions are really poor. Yeah, I know we are safe in 7th, and with the squad/money etc maybe that is just about right. I wasn't one of the "we could win the league" optimists at the start of season, but I still feel this is the shittiest season I've endured for years.

I honestly am not sure how we got to 7th place. Is it possible to have a worse season rankings wise, yet still feel like it has been a better season all round? I would suggest it is. We have finished much lower in the table before and I have been happier (note: not 'happy' ? just 'happiER').

I think it's down to the manager and his tactics and his lack of vision. We've had a few good results and performances, but these have really been few this season. There are teams below us that I believe have had 'better' seasons in terms of performance. Now I wouldn't want to trade places with the Blackpools of this world, nor do I necessarily agree with their tactics all the time, but I do feel they have performed a lot better than us.

Moyes is killing me, yes I am scared of what might happen if he goes, but I can't help but want him gone after this shit.
Trevor Mackie
22   Posted 15/05/2011 at 17:46:41

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Can't buy into this fear of change, Moyes has done his bit and restored dignity but you can't be nearly 10 years down the line and have a team bereft of guile and pace by accident.

His pinnacle has come and gone and I'd prefer to try a fresh outlook, a gamble of something new rather than continue with the guarantee on offer.

Sometimes you just need a change, and if you decide to try a subtle lilac shirt for your mates "stag do" it doesn't mean you turn up with a cork up your arse ? life's for living, not fearing.

(Disclaimer: except Amsterdam, Prague and Bootle.)
Jeff Armstrong
23   Posted 15/05/2011 at 19:22:49

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Come on then, change to whom?
Trevor Mackie
24   Posted 15/05/2011 at 20:10:19

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Jeff

Santa Claus

(I love this game)
Jeff Armstrong
25   Posted 15/05/2011 at 20:13:48

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How about Tony Storme, with Ben Galloway taking on the "upstairs" role...
Dermot Ryan
26   Posted 15/05/2011 at 23:37:49

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Thanks for all your reports this year, Ken. First thing I look for after a game. Want to echo David (12): your reports beat many of the windbags that write for the Guardian (my go to English paper here in LA).

Moyes needs to change the dynamic of that team. Time to make some sales and bring in some new faces. Build a squad around the spine of Howard, Jags, Baines, Fellaini, and possibly Arteta. For what Rodwell is giving us week in and week out, I don't think we can afford him. Yes, he may turn out to be the greatest English midfielder of his generation (although I seriously doubt it), but we need a game changer now. In, that regard, Id rate Charlie Adams over him.
Dermot Ryan
27   Posted 15/05/2011 at 23:37:49

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Thanks for all your reports this year, Ken. First thing I look for after a game. Want to echo David (12): your reports beat many of the windbags that write for the Guardian (my go to English paper here in LA).

Moyes needs to change the dynamic of that team. Time to make some sales and bring in some new faces. Build a squad around the spine of Howard, Jags, Baines, Fellaini, and possibly Arteta. For what Rodwell is giving us week in and week out, I don't think we can afford him. Yes, he may turn out to be the greatest English midfielder of his generation (although I seriously doubt it), but we need a game changer now. In, that regard, Id rate Charlie Adams over him.
Dick Fearon
28   Posted 16/05/2011 at 00:31:50

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Ken, Paul, Michael, Lyndon, a heartfelt thanks. Let's hope for more reportable pleasures next season.
Rahman Talib
29   Posted 16/05/2011 at 01:29:16

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Next season we will break into Top 4.........NOT!!!!!!!
Rahman Talib
30   Posted 16/05/2011 at 03:05:28

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So long as we are playing a nickel and dime game in the transfer market, we'll never amount to anything.
Dalziel Kane
31   Posted 16/05/2011 at 18:53:32

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All said, it was a nothing fixture right from the off, neither side has any real objective, apart to win the game and West Bromwich decided ahead of time they wanted it more, one or two players out there, who couldn't give a fuck attitude perhaps more thinking of summer vacations than an end-of-season game of soccer that was all rather immaterial to the clubs involved.

Right after the match, I started thinking of 1968 for some reason, Astle and all that. We haven't really done ourselves credit with WBA in recent years, that's twice they've done us this season, but I hold no grudges. Many thought they would be down this season but have hung in there and remain in the EPL so let them enjoy themselves. I'm disappointed obviously but as said, it was a rather trivial fixture and the players didn't turn up for the most part, I have no idea what will go down in the last game.

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