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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Utterly Ridiculous

By Paul Traill   ::  22/01/2012
 22 Comments (Last)
With Ste kindly offering me a lift to the game it was nice to sink a few beers in the pub pre-match. It was also nice to see Simon make a rare appearance and we were all even happy enough with the team news to face lowly Blackburn Rovers. Just the one change from the impressive draw at Aston Villa ? the unimpressive Drenthe replace by Anichebe which made sense given the goals he is offering us at the moment.

I think everyone was relieved Yakubu was missing this one. A goal from him would have been inevitable. Instead David Goodwillie lead the line for Rovers. No Chris Samba for them either with Paul Robinson taking goal. They were followed by perhaps the best crowd I?ve ever seen Blackburn bring to Goodison Park, taking up a fair bit of the lower section even if the Upper Tier was entirely vacant. Not a great support for many clubs no, but as good as I?ve seen them bring?it?s normally just a coach load.

Phil Neville lost the toss and the teams switched ends before Mark Halsey got proceedings under way. Chances were few and far between in the first half though Blackburn were always looking the more likely. We came reasonably close a couple of times through Phil Neville and Shane Duffy (both via corners) though were not really hurting Blackburn. Baines was doing his best to get down the flank and put in a few decent balls ? one in particular ? though Saha, or anyone really for that matter, just doesn?t appear hungry enough to get on the end of things at the moment.

Regardless, we did find ourselves ahead on 23 minutes after a corner was kick was cleared and then worked back to Donovan who clipped the ball back in. Blackburn still had a player on the line playing everybody onside. Fellaini controlled and bundled the ball to Cahill who easily finished from about six yards out. I saw nothing wrong though several Blackburn players chased the referee in complaint. I saw the replay and presumed they were falsely claiming for offside though having now seen it again its clear Fellaini handles in squaring the ball to Cahill and the goal shouldn?t have stood. Nevertheless?we led.

Sadly this wasn?t enough to deter Blackburn Rovers and they continued to battle away, twice coming very close to scoring when Dunn struck the post with a decent drive and a high cross was awkwardly cleared by a combination of Howard and Baines.

With 10 minutes or so to go until the break, I thought I?d take advantage of not driving the game and go for a half-time pint with Gary. I seldom bother with the half-time pint as I find I miss too much of the game but in previous seasons the monitors downstairs have at least shown the match hassle-free.

Well, I just can?t fathom what they?ve done to the screens now. They?ve flipped them all on their side making it difficult to see what?s going on. I think they?ve gone for a more digital plan showing latest results etc on one half of the TV with the game on the other, and then they can use the top side of the screen for advertising etc also. I?m all for that, we have to utilize every possible revenue stream as best we can but Christ, the quality of the match picture is now so, so poor it?s extremely difficult to detect what?s going on. It?s like watching the match on your mobile phone!

Furthermore, every time the ball goes out or there?s a stoppage in play the screen changes to show to some other advertising blurb and then doesn?t come back on again until mid-play. I can?t believe they?ve impaired the service so badly? that?s cost them my overly-priced Chang from now on anyway. Utterly ridiculous.

This all epitomized the second half as Everton were extremely lackluster throughout the remainder of the game and Blackburn were very worthy of their point. Moyes did try to do something about it, taking off the useless Saha and replacing him with Drenthe with Anichebe moving up front. This didn?t work either and Blackburn just grew in confidence throughout the half.

The goal had been coming for some time but oh my, what embarrassing circumstances of which to concede. Howard coming for a long free kick and missing it woefully. With the ball bouncing goalwards Cahill looked all set to clear on the line. He could have cleared it any which way? heading it out, smashing it high and upwards to the left or to the right, but for the love of God, not directly at Goodwillie who couldn?t help but score. As with the downstairs screens? utterly ridiculous.

The atmosphere was turning a bit nasty as frustration amongst the crowd was so horribly apparent. With the way it was going and with two substitutes still to use up I couldn?t understand why Moyes waited so long to make his changes. Looking at the bench there wasn?t much inspiration to be fair but just for work rate alone Vellios and Stracqualursi could have been introduced sooner than they were in my opinion.

Despite all this we still had some great chances to win it towards the end of the game. Duffy flicked his header onto the crossbar from a good Baines delivery which was unlucky. Fellaini later forced Robinson into a good save with the ex-England No 1 palming the ball out for a corner. From this we twice came close but just couldn?t force the ball home as Blackburn defended resolutely to ensure they shared the points. Boos greeted the final whistle as we trudged off in the cold wind.

Yet another disappointment to this God awful season and I?m just sick of it now. Sick of getting asked ?What happened there?? when I get to work on Monday. Sick of going home on a Saturday night after the match and just feeling down about it? at least this weekend my Red mates have nothing to laugh about either I suppose.

So in which direction do you point the finger of blame? I?m still reluctant to blame it all on Moyes. I?ve tried my best to be patient with the board but if I?m not mistaken Darron Gibson is the only First Team player we?ve actually paid money for in 2½ years. I think Gueye and Vellios we paid money for but they were effectively youth players.

So £500k is all we?ve paid out for First Team players in 2½ years? Exactly what sort of sustainable business model is that for a Premier League team? There?s managing prudently and there?s ?not doing a Leeds? but come on. Without at least some realistic investment we are just going nowhere?and will continue to go nowhere. If Moyes gets money and we still fail, then is the time to blame Moyes in my opinion.

I hate football today?but that can call change with FA Cup progress next Friday.

Player ratings:

Howard: Poor. Punching when it seemed easier to catch and generally all over the place. Foul or not, he should have been stronger with the goal and got nowhere near it. 4

Baines: My man of the match, more by default than anything else. 7

Heitinga: Not the worst performer. Seemed baffled as to what was going on around him at times. 6

Duffy: Did OK. Not great on the ball and got caught out once or twice, hence I had no problem with him just clearing his lines towards the end rather than trying to pick out a pass. If in doubt and all that. Came close to scoring also. 6

Neville: Not great. Got forward quite well but his balls into the box were usually poor. 5

Fellaini: Great when involved but went missing far to much. Had a ?hand? in the goal and came very close to scoring at the end but I think we need more from him than what we?re currently getting. He?s capable of much more. 6

Gibson: Largely anonymous. Just didn?t get into the game. Showed a few nice little passes. I like how patient he is on the ball, very Man Utd-like but he just didn?t get involved enough today and should have been subbed a lot sooner as he clearly didn?t have much left in the tank. 5

Anichebe: Worked hard I suppose but didn?t offer us much, particularly when put up front. Might have been a bit much to ask him to play nearly a full game given he?s just returning from injury. In hindsight maybe an impact substitute role might have been more apt today. 5

Donovan: Disappointing. Never really got going like we know he can. 5

Cahill: Once he scored he looked really up for it and was looking great. He then had to be the one who messed up for their goal. I really hope he doesn?t dwell on that and instead gains confidence from his goal. We need his goals now probably more than ever. 5

Saha: Now I?m no genius but to me its very apparent that Saha can?t handle 90 minutes anymore. Nowhere near in fact. Whilst I?m well aware we?re not going to get any / many goals playing Stracqualursi up front but at least that boy will put a shift in. Why not start him with the remit of ?kick, scrap and chase that centre back. Don?t give him an inch and don?t give him a second on the ball. Wear him down.? Let him do this for 60 /70 minutes and then bring on a fresh Saha against a now knackered and bruised centre-back and I imagine we?ll then get more out of Saha. You could apply the same role to Vellios also.

Let's rewind to Wednesday 10 November and Yakubu had just been dropped with Moyes rather unnecessarily publicly saying ?Yakubu has played the last six games and got me one goal. I?m looking for a better return from my strikers so am trying something different?. Now never mind the fact that whilst Yakubu may not have scored in all the games he played in during that period he did bully Liverpool and had a big hand in the 2-0 derby win. He also won the free kick which Baines bent in away at Spurs, scored the winner against Stoke City and set up a goal for Cahill away at Blackpool (Saha missed a sitter that game also). There?s faults to Yakubu?s game sure but I didn?t see the sense in dropping him then as he was showing decent form.

Take Saha, who has a total of 2 goals in his last 15 games. Why on earth do we persist and not try something else? I?m just glad Yakubu wasn?t there to rub it on our faces today. Saha was awful. For Godsake, Moyes, either use him more effectively or get rid. 4

Drenthe (for Saha): Didn?t do it today I?m afraid. Poor. 4

Vellios (for Anichebe): Didn?t really get into the game. Still learning. I can?t believe Moyes didn?t start with him after he scored a hat-trick for the reserves this week though. 5

Stracqualursi (for Gibson): Got involved and won a few headers. Would like to see him given the ?kick, scrap and chase? project next Friday. 6

Reader Comments

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Kunal Desai
883   Posted 22/01/2012 at 19:12:11

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Paul. The board are responsible for a number of failures at club but are they responsible for what happens on the pitch?? What is saha doing to warrant a start in every game? Why are the likes of vellios and drenthe starting on the bench. I mean ffs drenthe is the only one with pace in the side. Ive lost all confidence in moyes. Hes not turning anything around. He cant even get his players to produce simple passing football. His demeanour says it all he no longer cares or wants to be at everton any longer.
Jamie Sweet
889   Posted 22/01/2012 at 19:54:36

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Paul, it sounds like you have finally reached your breaking point.
Simon Harris
890   Posted 22/01/2012 at 20:24:42

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Kunal - Moyes pre match comments echoed Graeme Sharp's analysis of Drenthe at Aston Villa, both felt he would make more of an impact coming off the bench.

I questioned this until I saw his display yesterday, he is certainly a live wire and has the potential to change a game, but he got caught too many times in possession again, ran into cul de sacs and rarely got his head up to play a simple yet effective pass.

I'm not his biggest fan but the game was crying out for Leon Osman yesterday, to put his foot on it, bring others into play and add a bit of composure and guile to our attacking play.

As for Moyes, I feel like many others have already stated, his demeanor and body language aren't that of the man who took his team regularly into the top six, despite a miserable net spend compared to his rivals.

Clearly, something is wrong at the club, losing Pienaar and Arteta and replacing them with Drenthe and Gibson tells it's own tale, there is a lack of quality in the team and a net spend of circa -16m in the last 18 months must be taking its toil on Moyes.

The boards role in this slump cannot be underestimated, their failure to re-invest has left the manager scrambling around for loan deals and lower league punts which I feel has finally caught up with us and sadly David Moyes.

I just hope we can get to 40 points as quickly as possible and reassess in the summer.

Something has to change at the club as its gone stale, from top to bottom including the fans. That may mean a new manager, but with Kenwright and co calling the shots do you have confidence in them making the right decisions? - I don't !

Kenwright out
Ian Kearney
896   Posted 22/01/2012 at 20:51:39

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Bit harsh on the two CH's ratings wise, other than that I'm in complete agreement with you, Paul.
Peter Laing
901   Posted 22/01/2012 at 20:56:55

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After Fulham took Newcastle apart yesterday and the impressive Clint Dempsey played out of his skin, I fear Paul that we will not progress beyond the next round based on yesterday's piss-poor display.
Mark Wayman
902   Posted 22/01/2012 at 20:54:20

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Don't agree with the Duffy rating, other than that spot on. Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion on the match for those who couldn't make it.
Steve O'Malley
911   Posted 22/01/2012 at 21:28:29

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Paul, you say that Hetinga seemed a bit baffled about what was going on around him. I think there was another 30,000 who felt the same way.

Personally I thought Heitinga had a decent game and Duffy was excellent.

As for Saha, I confess to feeling sorry for the bloke. He has missed a couple of good opportunities lately but in terms of getting some decent service in and around the box, we don't have the people to provide it. Even when Cahill put Donovan in the clear, the better option was an inside ball to Saha rather than shooting.
Derek Thomas
913   Posted 22/01/2012 at 21:21:00

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Kick, scrap and chase for Denis for an hour. Out of very few options left for us with Saha it seems not the worst plan in the world... or are we, in our 'ignorance' being too simplistic. Well IMO no, deep down football's a simple game.

This then begs the question: If we can see it, why can't Moyes?... Two reasons: Can't or Won't.

None of which give any cred to the 'Moyes must stay' faction.
Nick Armitage
914   Posted 22/01/2012 at 21:47:28

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I think the main reason Stracqualursi won't start is because he has less ability than Brett Angell. He is rank.
Steve Barr
915   Posted 22/01/2012 at 21:34:44

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Peter @#901. Every performance this season has been piss-poor to be honest. I also doubt we'll beat Fulham in the cup; even if we do, you know we're going to blow it against a lower league team anyway... Reading comes to mind, although there are many more to cite.

Every week this season, I've said I'm not going to watch next week's game... but, every week, I find a stream and hope for an improved performance. Can't get to many live games living in the USA.

I can fully sympathise with all of you who turn out, home and away, every week, and obviously hope things will improve. I know we have the best fans out there, bar none.

Keep the faith, continue to debate and agitate. We have to prevail!

COYBs
Jem Traynor
927   Posted 22/01/2012 at 22:22:19

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Totally agree with the above article. Something has to give and Moyes isn't geting the players to respond. Cahill is over the hill, Saha doesn't have the pace to play up front on his own and Neville will only offer a rallying cry and well not much else.

Paying supporters watch this and know where the problems lie so why can't paid so-called professionals see it too?? We all know there's no chance of us beating Fulham in the Cup... No Chance! Worse still, there will be a relegation battle ahead and, from what we are used to seeing, that itself looks to be a dodgy prospect.

Does the Board want the parachute payment then scarper? I'm sorry but there's not much else on show from them!!
Dick Fearon
942   Posted 22/01/2012 at 23:22:39

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Paul, it seems your good self and Ken Buckley are reaching the end of a Moyes tether that I reached long ago.

The man seems totally oblivious of what's wrong and how to rectify it.

Moyes fails or what is worse, refuses to accept that Sahas lackadaisical "couldn't be arsed" demeanor is not a just cover.
Ernie Baywood
978   Posted 23/01/2012 at 04:54:34

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I blame Moyes for what he is doing right now, I blame Saha for his performances, I blame every blue who just isn't performing as well as they could.

But then after the match on Saturday Fox Sports showed one of their "EPL Classic Match" episodes - it was our 7-1 demolition of Sunderland in 2007. Lots of the same players, same manager, but with a few key additions such as Pienaar, Arteta, Yakubu, Lescott, and even Andy Johnson off the bench.

Those who say Moyes is dour etc should remember that he did build a team capable of playing some cracking football. Likewise those who say Osman is shit should remember he was once capable of gliding past 2 players and calmly slotting in the seventh.

Unfortunately for these blokes, the better part of that team was dismantled. Watching that game it's hard to believe how far we have fallen in such a short space of time. So Moyes is shit, and so are the majority of the players, but it's hard to blame them when anyone half decent around them is stripped away.

And the blame for that is at board level. How the fuck did we screw this up so badly?
Steve Guy
998   Posted 23/01/2012 at 08:17:16

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Ernie, can'y disagree with any of that, ther than to say that Moyes has let it happen by not drawing a line in the with Pienaar.

And "we" didn't screw it up "they" did. Plenty of supporters could see this coming as one slow motion train wreck....hence the supporter groups' loobying for change of ownership.
Steve Pugh
008   Posted 23/01/2012 at 08:35:10

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Until the board goes this is it. New manager might be a very short term fix but that is all. Get rid of the board then we can worry about the rest.
Dave Williams
035   Posted 23/01/2012 at 11:14:21

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It seems Moyes feels the only way to win is to steal a goal and keep a clean sheet. Surely he won't blow whatever budget we have on Onuha when Duffy is doing fine and the injured players are on their way back. He must get a striker, not another defender.

Unless he sorts us out quickly, relegation is possible as the spirit is poor ? caused in my view by the total negativity from Moyes since pre-season. As others have posted, if Swansea and Norwich can play attractive stuff and pick up points, why can't we?

Why no news of Barkley ? worrying lack of info about his knee injury?
Jay Harris
056   Posted 23/01/2012 at 13:09:38

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Ernie is spot on.

Kenwright and "friends of Everton" have sucked the spirit out of the manager the players and the supporters.

I have never known the Everton "family" so divided and disspirited in 50 years of watching the Blues.
Ian Kearney
069   Posted 23/01/2012 at 13:32:00

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Ernie, the thing that worries me most about that, is it makes me think that Arteta and Pienaar were 'managing' the team on the pitch not Moyes, as without them, but with the same manager, the current players look devoid of what to do.
Steve Turner
096   Posted 23/01/2012 at 15:04:38

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I actually agree with most if not all the comments above and it is funny how they mirror my views for once!!. A blue all my life and to be honest it runs my life for 9 months a year.

I have however never felt so dissalusioned as I do now though; what a crock of shite, every effing week. No heart, no soul, nothing,

It is like a 400m relay race without the 4th runner AND it is so obvious to see, predictable every time. We won't go down, but to be honest I would rather be in a relegation scrap where they played their all than watch this shite every week. Absolutely depressing.
Jim Knightley
104   Posted 23/01/2012 at 15:17:48

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Great post Ernie. The manager deserves criticism, but by far the biggest impact has been the loss of so much of our squad. Moyes has made some great transfers and some poor ones, but unfortunately the majority of the best of them have left or grown ineffective. Pienarr and Arteta (especially) have been two of the best signings in recent years given money paid. Without them we look seriously lacking in creativity, exaggerated at the moment by Osman's absence.

Cahill has grown older and needs a rest, Saha too (he needs to go) but we have no one to replace them with. I would advocate a different striker up front, but really, they are all rather poor (although Velios will hopefully become a decent player and Anichebe could improve if he finally gets an injured free period). I think the squad is suffering the physical and mental effects of continued erosion over an extended period.

There have been very few new faces, even less quality introduced against the backdrop of ownership problems and dwindling hopes. Most home games Everton players step out onto Goodison Park expected to win. Yet often they step out against teams in higher spirits, looking up instead of down or simply with better squads. Moyes may be partly to blame, but the majority of the blame lays with a board which has seen us lose the best squad in 15 years, and stare into a hopeless abyss hiding the increasing potential of relegation.
Mick Davies
409   Posted 24/01/2012 at 14:24:03

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Moyes has tried a different team almost every game for years. I've never known an Everton team so unfamiliar. How many of us could recite the the teams of old who, apart from injury was almost the same week in week out, even in the barren 70's. I defy anyone to name next weeks side now. FFS we've had full backs playing in midfield, big, bustling centre-forwards on the wing, right backs at left back and even the goalie is among the leading scorers this season. In 10 years, you'd think he'd have a settled side and the ability to bring in players to fit the system and not misfits (Bily, AVDM, Yak, Beckford etc.). As for the money argument, every time he's bought big, it hasn't worked out and now we're losing millions on his Russian waste. I say, Moyes out NOW before it's too late. If we lose to Fulham then that has to be it. The boo boys were screaming for Kendall's head after less than 3 years of mediocrity, how much longer than a decade does someone need to prove themselves?
Christopher Arellano
449   Posted 24/01/2012 at 17:22:05

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I blame the board, not Moyes. He's frustrated at the hand he has been dealt.

But having said that, don't understand why Saha starts every game. Maybe Moyes thinks Saha will start his salary drive, looking ahead to next season, and will score goals in a batch. Maybe the others are even worse, although it'd be nice to see them get a chance to start.

The overall state of the club is a mess, and in sorry financial condition. It probably won't improve next season either, but hopefully there will be dumping of hefty contracts that will allow some new players to be brought in. (Not star players, but cheaper and hungrier ones - I hope....)

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