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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Wigan (A)

By Ken Buckley   ::  04/02/2012
 28 Comments (»Last)
Another Howard howler has us on the back foot but Big Vic rose to rescue a point when, after such gritty and determined displays against both Fulham and City were set aside, we played as though it was our right to win and the build up play was so slow it gave Wigan a lift.

After beating the top side and entertaining so many Blues, even the manager joined in and expressed his new-found belief and confidence as we went to bottom side Wigan. But instead of going at it as we had v City, we went all tippy tappy and paid a price of two points.


The team as announced showed changes from a successful night v City. Distin returned and replaced Hibbert who moved sideways and replaced Neville and the prodigal son replaced Drenthe. Was that the right thing to do after our super night v City? Well the man who is payed a fortune to decide these things thought it was.

From the off, I thought we were to deliberate in our build up which in turn gave Wigan time to regroup. Pienaar proved this beyond doubt when he beat three men in impressive fashion but he took so long in making the pass to La Traca that the Argentine was left offside by a simple walk forward by Wigan defenders.

Not a lot was happening despite some good work by Fellaini who won his fair share of ball and was always available to receive the ball. He played both Donovan and Pienaar in down both flanks but resultant play was mostly stifled as players took too long on the ball and we got nowhere. Wigan took heart and gave us a fright when a long ball found Di Santo who was through but thwarted by the feet of Howard.

As the half was meandering toward the whistle we did have one good move of pace that saw Baines race to the by line and pull a delightful ball back for Gibson. We all held our breath, last week?s hero, the man with the reputation for having dynamite in his boots this time hit it unconvincingly high and wide.

H/T and most of the chat was about how we looked a pale shadow of our swashbuckling selves from the last two matches but most thought we could still sort it second half and it was unanimous that the new lad Jelavic should be introduced.

There was a change at the start of the second half but it was Neville replacing Cahill who I presume must have been injured. It does make you think though, a full back who can play mid-field on for the second striker. It would be nice if sometimes a manager could let us fans in on the secret of such manoeuvres. We played ok but much in the vein of the first half, slow, but we did get the ball wide and Donovan and Pienaar looked to make things happen but there was just no ?get up and go? about it all.

With the number of travelling Blues in attendance and the sparcity of Wigan fans it was akin to a home match and the travelling faithful upped the ante and on the hour mark a tremendous reception was heard as our new striker Jelavic replaced La Traca who in truth had looked no more than a real trier. He was soon in the action as the impressive Hibbert got forward yet again and put in a decent cross which our new man stepped over with the intention of leaving Fellaini with a tap in, unfortunately there was a Wigan player between the two of them and a promising raid was lost.

Fellaini was now orchestrating most things and Pienaar and Baines were trying to replicate the moves of a season gone by but each time it seemed too much time was taken before a decisive pass could be mustered. We were on top and Wigan were looking less and less a danger that is until Neville and Howard took a hand in proceedings or in Howard?s case he did not put a hand to proceedings.

On 75mins Wigan?s new man Beausejour crossed hard and low, Neville swung a boot at it and diverted the ball at Howard who somehow allowed a ball that admittedly changed course as it hit the turf to go past him and into the net. Players and fans alike were stunned. I expect many an excuse will be offered but from my seat that ball was well within the reach of a hand that could and should have at least pushed the ball away from goal as it was he looked most un-coordinated. As good a keeper as Howard mostly is, he does seem to have these moments of madness in him.

1-0 down and stalemate on the bench until some five minutes had passed when a flurry of activity took place, the upshot being that on 80mins Big Vic replaced Hibbert with Neville going to right-back. If he wasn?t considered good enough to start there why not just swap him with Vic? However the sub was fruitful for the manager as with just a couple of minutes of coming on Big Vic was in the right place after an initial corner from the right taken by Baines was not the best but it was returned to him and his second effort was much better and on the money to be headed majestically home by our super-sub.

The half came to an end and even with 5mins of injury time neither side could capitalise on breaks.

MotM --- Fellaini.

Overall a wet and cold day out and nowhere near as enjoyable as last Tuesday but a chance to see our new recruits. It is far too early to judge any of them but my take today was that Gibson has a lot of sharpening up to do, Jelavic was as you would expect in his first game a bit lost and bemused and Pienaar was as he left us, full of enterprise and a keen eye for link up play yet as I remember him last time never the type to burst into the box and be right involved at the sharp end. Still Baines seemed pleased to have him back as he had quite a few gallops to the by-line. Was it just me or where we too preoccupied that now we have options within the squad we started the tippy tappy stuff with no cutting edge in favour of the get up and go of our previous two games? I am sure there is a very good team waiting to click but on today?s evidence they must incorporate a much greater tempo to the play.

Chelsea next and despite their wealth I believe we have a team to tame them at a noisy Goodison. I just hope for a team that believes that, and gives it a right go at the right tempo. Wouldn?t it be great to beat the two teams bankrolled by bottomless money pit benefactors in consecutive home games. I will see you there to find out.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Murray Campbell
520   Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:40:30

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I give up. 20 years of getting up in the middle of the night half way around the world for that. Come on guys sort it out. I wonder what big Nev would be thinking. Perhaps he might get a start (sorry Tim but it is not good ... you guys get paid to do this). We can't bloody win pissing around in our half and having 7 across the back. Show some faith David let the lads have a crack ... they seem to do ok when on loan to others. Too much control and not enough ticker until it's too late.
Tommy Gibbons
544   Posted 05/02/2012 at 00:19:23

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NIce report as ever Mr Buckley...

But without watching the game I could have written a match report quite similair because you knew Moyes would revert to type. The man and his tactics are moronic and I can't wait for him to be replaced. And no, I won't be singing his name ? even if he flukes the cup!!
Dick Fearon
548   Posted 05/02/2012 at 00:27:58

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Ken, glad to see you back. I am in complete agreement with your analysis. We were far too slow building our attacks and only after Wigan scored did we show any real urgency.
That begs the question, was Moyes and the players content to let the game meander along while it was 0-0.
Did we have to go a goal behind before the whips started to crack.
In our wildest dreams could we envisage scoring more than two goals against any premiership team. Moyes would park the bus if we went just one goal in front.
The man is a loser with a losers mentality who considers a 1-1 draw against a relegation candidate as being some kind of success.

Keith Glazzard
551   Posted 05/02/2012 at 00:26:36

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We can't be considered a serious football team with Phil Neville - and increasingly Tim Cahill - playing in midfield. Those days are long gone.

Wigan played against us like we played against City and for me deserved a few more yellows than they got - Fellaini rugby tackled from behind and judged to have fouled, good grief! - but where was our commitment? Certainly not to attack them.

Its a very strange league this one, and although bottom Wigan FC is no basket case their players and manager deserved a good measure of respect. But Moyes gave them too much, wanted a clean sheet and set us up to get that. Something of a flook spoiled the plan and - hey presto, what do you know - we upped the tempo and scored a goal. If only, if only pressing the opposition was built into the game plan - not for 90 minutes, but as part of a strategy.

All not lost in the end, and we have some very good players available for the coming games. I just hope the management knows how to use them.




Roman Sidey
553   Posted 05/02/2012 at 00:54:56

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Agree totally, Dick. I honestly think the best solutions to all our problems, short of a new manager, would be for us to kick the ball in our own net in the very first minute of the game. Then at least we'll have 90 minutes of urgent football rather than the 15 we're currently getting.
Jem Traynor
558   Posted 05/02/2012 at 01:53:32

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I have to agree with the general jist of what is being said in the article and posts,the more we play the more obvious it is to see.

Every player who wears the royal blue shirt must feel it because they emulate the same through style of play ans their sense of urgency, It was like watching a completely different team against Wigan compared to the win against City! there are the questions of fatigue after that match and the pitch being good enough for an egg shaped ball only but there was still something lacking commonly known as Impetus, that is down to the management only.

I know we aren't the richest club but mediocrity isn't a quality in any professional outfit! I noticed a reporter asked Moyes after the Wigan game, "did you lose hope before the Fulham and City games" that to me echoed something important in that if you look really closely or have a vested intrest you will see all is not well and there is Negativity in the way the Club is Run at all levels! Mediocraty! At best...
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.
Paul Ward
563   Posted 05/02/2012 at 02:25:59

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After the very good showing against City it is back to the abysmal normal. Moyes tactics will never change, it is time to pick up an out of work tacticaly minded manager and put him in charge. You would not even have to pay Moyes out because his ego would not allow him to be an assistant.
Kieran Kinsella
564   Posted 05/02/2012 at 03:12:01

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I think you lot have unrealistic expectations. The team have been rubbish all year and after one memorable night you all expect the team to be good.

The game today was played in bad conditions against a team that didn't want to lose. Why didn't Moyes play Drenthe? Because based on his "being good versus being crap" ratio, he is due a really bad game after playing well against City. To me, Drenthe is just a poor man's Regi Blinker and not someone I want to see the team sign on a permanent basis.

Him apart, Gibson to me is like the new Stephen Hughes in that he has been at a so-called big club for ages without quite establishing himself. We sign him and hope for the best, but as he showed today, he is the kind of guy who has 4 or 5 terrible misses for every on-target shot. Why did Moyes sign him? Because he cost about a third of what Peter Beagrie cost back in 1989.

As for the Croatian? His debut reminded me of James Beattie's: slow, pensive, lumbering and ineffective. Some people have high hopes for him since he is a "big money signing" but again, let's put in in perspective: He cost less than Nick Barmby did about 15 years ago and he cost one tenth what Chelsea spent on Torres. More to the point, he cost about the same amount that we just raised by selling Bily and we know that Bily was rubbish so forgive me for not getting too excited about the new lad.

Accept it folks, if you sell 3 good players for every one mediocre player that you sign, then you are going to have a rubbish team. Dour Davie is doing well to keep us mid-table.
Peter Barry
565   Posted 05/02/2012 at 03:35:15

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As if we don't have enough trouble with the outfield Dross that Dire Depressing Dour Davey has us playing just lately, Howard has looked increasingly vulnerable, flapping at crosses, letting in howlers like today, and unable to dominate his area. But do you think Tactics Devoid Depressing Dire Dour Disaster Davey will take action? Of course not ? he's a stubborn Jock.

I remember back in the 60s/70s, Leeds Utd had a keeper called Gary Sprake who made the same sort of mistakes as Howard. The RS used to sing 'Careless Hands" whenever they met. The singer/comedian Des O'Connor (is he still alive?) a Liverpudlian and rabid RS supporter, just like Jimmy Tarbuck and Cilla Black, sang the song.
Arthur Westhead
572   Posted 05/02/2012 at 08:06:40

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Spot on, Ken. We had the game to win if Moyes had brought on an attacking option for Cahill.

Drenthe or Jelavic should have been the choice, certainly not Neville. But what, have two strikers on the field at the same time? Not the Moyes way. Pushing Fellaini up front weakens the midfield with Neville there.

I despair of Moyes's negative tactics.
Trevor Lynes
618   Posted 05/02/2012 at 10:25:20

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I'm surprised we did not bid for a proven premier player, eg, Zamora or Doyle, instead for opting for a Croatian who has been playing for Rangers in the worst league in pro football in Britain.

I see the Stracq as yet another Vaughan... bags of energy with no real ability except in the air. I'm afraid that if the Stracq is preferred to Vellios then we are still in dire straits for a striker.

The win against Man City was solely due to tremendous effort and we stopped city from playing. The goal was a surprise bonus. I really yearn for the time when we used to beat teams easily and played entertaining football while doing it....it seems so long ago now!!

Football is supposedly an entertainment so it's no wonder our games are kept to a minimum on TV.
Paul Thompson
620   Posted 05/02/2012 at 10:46:38

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The problem with a lot of these comments is that they are not about the game, but re-treads of predictable views on Moyes/club/team. Ok, games have similarities, but this a match report. The focal point of controversy here was the substitution of Cahill by Neville. This has been roundly condemned as a defensive move. It wasn?t ? Fellaini can be effective up front and he did put himself about.

The substitution was wrong because it didn?t improve the shape of the team. Fellaini played well in the first half, tackling and distributing the ball purposefully. Removing him from centre midfield left Gibson who was somewhere between anonymous and woeful the whole game and Neville, who is not effective in that role anymore (if he ever was).

Any positives? Obviously Pienaar, who brought intelligence and direct running and never seemed to have been away. Distin settled back well after an understandably shaky start. And another vital cameo goal from Vic. It?s way too early to making any comments on Jelavic.

Wigan are not a bad team ? they have pace to burn down the flanks. But we could and should have won, as Ken indicates, with more purpose and positive intent.
Andy McNabb
630   Posted 05/02/2012 at 11:02:07

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Peter Barry #565 - living in Belfast at the time, Gary Sprake was one of the first keepers I was aware of as a kid. Everyone liked Leeds or Chelsea at the time. Do you remember the incident where he attempted to throw the ball one handed and only succeeded in hurling it into the back of his own net?
Alan McGuffog
634   Posted 05/02/2012 at 11:05:32

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Andy, there must have been something put in the water in Belfast, if,as you said "everyone liked Leeds or Chelsea ".
At that time Leeds were the most universally despised team in the country, nowhere more so than at Goodison, especially after the notorious game in 1964 when all the players were taken off to cool down. Sandy Brown twatted Johnny Giles early on and got the early bath.
Chelsea, under Docherty, whilst they could be an attractive side to watch, were a team of fucking assassins...McCready, Harris et al
Whilst meandering down memory lane I recall kopite mates of mine saying that at half time in the Gary Sprake own goal game the announcer played Careless Hands. Coincidence or inspired ?
Dick Fearon
644   Posted 05/02/2012 at 11:31:08

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Kieran # 564, In light of our financial problems it may be unrealistic to demand we win many or any games yet since when has it been unrealistic to demand physically fit affluent professional athletes earn their enormous pay packet by working hard for 90 minutes.
Why is it unrealistic to expect our manager, also on a millionaires salary, to earn his keep by motivating his players for the whole game and not only when we go behind.
The very least we should expect from players and manager is that they work to the limit of their ability.
At Wigan it was patently obvious while the scores were level Everton was happy to coast.
There can be only one explanation for this latest in a long list of shocking displays and it lies squarely at Moyes door.
He does not see how slow his team is or what is worse is happy at the way it is.
David Hallwood
656   Posted 05/02/2012 at 12:01:24

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Great report as ever Ken, BTW what happened to the Citteh report? Paul Thompsom #620 can't agree with your comments on the subs. Instead of like for like, by pushing Fellani further forward thereby playing him out of position he caused more disruption to the team than was necessary.

I am neither pro or anti Moyes, but his all consuming caution is driving me to distraction. Weirdly enough, his approach works well with the top teams because he sets his team out to invite them to attack and then break the play up, and try to nick something. Which is why although we not always successful against the big teams, but it's always a close run thing.

But Wigan FFS, grow a pair of balls and go at them
Paul Thompson
685   Posted 05/02/2012 at 14:40:38

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David@636

'can't agree with your comments on the subs. Instead of like for like, by pushing Fellani further forward thereby playing him out of position he caused more disruption to the team than was necessary.

Err...that was my point. 'The substitution was wrong because it didn?t improve the shape of the team'.
Keith Glazzard
688   Posted 05/02/2012 at 14:38:33

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As well as the general disapproval about our approach to this game, there are a few comments specifically about the wisdom (please note the heavy irony in the use of that word) bringing Neville on to play in midfield. If Cahill was to be replaced in the forward role, quite rightly, why not go straight for Jelavic ? who was likely to be brought on anyway? Or Drenthe?

Pushing Fellaini up makes no sense as he gets forward in support anyay and is always up for set pieces. And Neville would do a better job in holding midfield than him? What does go through their (meaning Moyes and Round) minds?

Concerning Leeds 1970 ? Mr McGuffog and myself will now join in a rousing chorus (to the tune of The Dambusters March) of:

We all hate Leeds, and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds and Leeds .. etc

It was the only song that both sets of supporters at a game not involving Leeds could happily sing together. A tyke will tell you it's because they used to win ? which they did. Everyone else, including Clough in his short stay there, will tell you its how they did it.
Mick Gallagher
692   Posted 05/02/2012 at 15:23:59

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Neville on for Cahill when you have 4 attack minded players Jelavic, Drenthe, Anichebe and Gueye on the bench sums Moyes up for me. The game was there to be won but he shit out of it.
Tony Cheek
693   Posted 05/02/2012 at 15:24:31

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Good report Ken.....Howard has a bad habit of taking his eye off the ball before its in his grasp, he seems to be thinking about the next thing before it happens. He done the same in the opening game (season 10/11) against Blackburn. I have never been his biggest fan, but think he has been worth his place this season with some good perfoprmances. But it doesnt matter how he plays, he will play the next game. Either Mucha and Hahnemann are absolutely useless or he caught Moyes shagging a goat.
Steve Higham
714   Posted 05/02/2012 at 17:09:09

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Really disappointed coming home from the game yesterday. All the supporters where up for the game even in the freezing cold weather.

Moyes with his baffling substitutions just seems to suck all the optimism out of you. Everyone around me was amazed when Neville appeared for Cahill after the break. Just what was the point of it? - It just set out his mindset keep a point and try to nick a goal. It's Wigan, for god's sake!!!

We should have come out all guns blazing in the second half - but our manager showed his true colours again. Instead of building on the City win, we play within ourselves, which we have done for most of the season. Moyes's only interest is getting to 40 points in the most mundane manner.
David Hallwood
724   Posted 05/02/2012 at 17:59:23

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My apologies Paul Thompson #685, I mis-read your comment-try harder next time
Michael Kidd
736   Posted 05/02/2012 at 18:59:26

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A few comments:

1. What about the old adage - never change a winning team?
2. If you are going to change it, why not put in the new striker from the start?
3. Did Neville contrbute anything to that game (other than to Wigan)?
4. Why did we start playing only when we went behind?
5. Howard was responsible for a bad cock-up but honestly, that should have been nothing more than a consolation for Wigan.
Colin Malone
741   Posted 05/02/2012 at 19:09:37

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Gibson's positioning is good but he is like Patrick Swayze in the film Ghost, opposition players walk right through him, he cannot tackle.
Steve Carter
753   Posted 05/02/2012 at 19:57:06

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Those dissing Sprake might recall our keepers in that era: David Lawson (Gawd...) and Dai Davies ('good' enough to be Sprake's understudy for Wales).
Kevin Elliott
772   Posted 05/02/2012 at 23:42:59

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Save your breath explaining things'
MOYES OUT!
Andy McNabb
791   Posted 06/02/2012 at 02:39:56

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Alan #634. It's wonderful what a bit of distance can do. In those days, Belfast seemed a bit further away from the rest of the UK than it is now. I remember being the only Everton fan I was aware of (1000 kids at Finaghy Primary in those days) - everyone else wanted to be Leeds or Chelsea when we played footy at break and lunch.
Robert Workman
855   Posted 06/02/2012 at 13:05:35

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Watched the game on good Internet stream, but without sound. Missed first minute of second half. Noticed Cahill was not on pitch. Looked around for Drenthe but only found Fellaini up front and Neville in midfield! Fellaini has been showing good form recently so, as has been said earlier, to my mind midfield was weakened.

I believe that Drenthe could have linked well with Pienaar. Pienaar was my MotM. He played just like the Billy Fury song "Like I've never been gone" (golden oldie, bad English!). He also played with a smile on his face. Close behind him would be Heitinga and Fellaini. 2 points dropped as Wigan never looked like scoring themselves - and didn't!

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