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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: QPR (A)

By Ken Buckley   ::  04/03/2012
 13 Comments (Last)
QPR away and with them having a poor record on home soil gave many a Blue thoughts of three points but a disjointed performance saw us grateful to come away with just one point and on a unbeaten eight game run.

After the reserves run out in the week, I thought Rodwell may make the starting line-up; after all, he played a lot of that game... but certainly the bench. The fact he made neither raises a few injury worries in conversations regarding all things Blue. We did however welcome back Osman, Jelavic and Coleman on the bench, all would play some part.

We started well and within minutes we had a shot saved by the keeper and then Cahill hit the bar, the omens looked good... but, after 10mins of domination and some good joined-up stuff, we somehow lost our way and any control we may have had in midfield which led to the back four having to defend with less than usual poise and in quick succession QPR had three good chances, all from free kicks.

Hill, the ex-Tranmere man, first stabbed wide then headed wide from what can only be called less than copybook defending. Howard was next to the rescue when Distin fouled Wright-Phillips, he dived to his right to turn away a good free kick that went straight through all the defenders. We were a tad lucky in that spell and got luckier later.

Back up our end, we had a few corners that Drenthe took but for most of them he was in Arteta mode... but he did get one to swing and dip to the far post which seemed to hit Heitinga and bounce to the keeper. I hope it was the fact he saw it very late and could not react otherwise it was a bad miss. It must have been on his mind as his next involvement was to miss place a pass which gave the ball back to the opposition and ended with the ball being headed just wide.

Fellaini seemed to be a one-man central midfield as he strove to be both creator and destroyer as Neville was no more than doing the best he could in the engine room. Fellaini was then instrumental in our opening goal when he tackled back, won the ball, set off and found Pienaar who in turn played in Drenthe who sped forward and hit one from some 25 yards and found the bottom corner giving the keeper little chance. The noise was such that you would be forgiven for thinking the home team had scored. Drenthe seems to like good low and hard shots into that corner of the net, I think that might be his third in similar vein. Now keep it tight till half-time and we are half-way there and looking at the bench 3 points were certainly achievable.

But this is Everton and we yet again, after going one up, sat back. Why? QPR said thanks and came straight at us and, with being so deep, any free kick we gave away was always going to be in a dangerous area and we sure as hell gave some away. The first one hit the wall and left Howard stranded due to the deflection but luckily just missed the goal. Then within minutes Drenthe showed why he may not be suited to the modern game when he raced back and made a tackle that suggested naivety at best, chopped his man down in an area most are told to stay on their feet and jockey.

The free kick was hard toward the near post and the ball hit the net from the head of Zamora. That was a bit of a downer especially as Howard from my seat seemed rooted to his line when a run and flailing arm may have helped our cause more. I was some way away so I may be doing him a disservice. Drenthe was booked as well and given his tackling abilities his chances of finishing the game took a turn for the worse.

Drenthe was at it again when La Traca, who had been less than sparkling that first half, won a free kick in a good shooting position. Drenthe seemed to demand to take it and surprisingly our players seemed to give in to him. Before he could take it, we had a comic interlude with a squirrel on the pitch. What of the free kick? you say. We should have let the squirrel take it, say I.

Just on the half-time mark, we had a fantastic piece of luck, at the double. Zamora for once was out of Heitinga?s pocket and he laid the ball back for Taarabt to beat Howard but hit a post, the ball went back across goal and found Zamora again who selflessly laid it to a colleague standing alone in front of a free and gaping goal. Somehow he managed to place it with precision against the post and we hacked the ball clear. With luck like that I became confident that we would not lose... not too sure about the winning but we would wait and see what the second half brings.

The second half was at best poor to watch as both teams strived to a) not give anything away and b) open it up and attack. This left the game in a sort of staccato affair and as a spectacle, somewhat devoid of any flowing moves. I was watching the clock for the hour mark as I suspected a change may be made as we were not firing as we should and creating little to thrill the faithful in goalmouth action terms.

Just passed that hour mark and two changes were made. Drenthe and Cahill hooked to be replaced by Osman and Jelavic, the latter getting a rousing reception, such is our thirst to have a proper centre forward. Osman replaced Drenthe on the wing... why not Coleman I thought?

Still Jelavic soon showed us that he has a thunderous shot as he fired home, unfortunately it was well after the whistle went for him being off-side; fortunately he wasn?t booked for his antic. Not a lot changed and the half rumbled on with attacks from both sides that didn?t come too much and a lot of them were orchestrated by mistakes in midfield from both teams. Just a couple of minutes to go plus injury time and Coleman replaced the anonymous La Traca.

Bit of a damp squib rather than a firecracker. I don?t know whether Coleman was not considered fit enough for any longer but in those few last minutes we looked as balanced as we had been all match but we still could not fashion chances in the box. Final whistle and a point away keeping our unbeaten run going. It could have been better but equally it could have been a whole lot worse.

MotM ? Heitinga.

Overall I thought we were missing Gibson and Donovan big style as our midfield never really got to grips with this game. Donovan we can?t have... it is almost cruel just to have him for those few games as he shows us what we desperately need in that position but, due to fiscal problems, can?t have... but at least Gibson will be back and, with more game time and settling in, I think he will help a lot. Jelavic did little really today yet there was just something about him that I liked. After a couple of fleeting appearances it?s impossible to judge ? let?s just say it?s a hunch.

I didn?t think the Baines-Pienaar axis worked at all which took a chunk out of our overall attacking momentum. La Traca, Neville and Cahill were just not at the races yet Hibbert, who gets stick from some quarters had a good solid game and getting forward enough to be encouraged to SHOOOOOT!

Now what about Drenthe? I would not know where to start but he sure is up there with the best of the eccentrics.

I thought that although the manager tried different formations during play it wasn?t the formation that was the problem it looked to me more like not having good enough players in certain positions; if you look at midfield, that is one area that really needs addressing. Let?s hope we win the Euro millions.

Spurs next, always a good game at Goodison and, as no two games are the same, let's hope we get a good performance and 3 points.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Keith Glazzard
297   Posted 04/03/2012 at 18:05:57

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There's not much we can do about Landon, Ken, and Gibson will be back. But there must be something we can do rather than play Neville in midfield. Fellaini, again, was given far too much to do, and thank heavens we have him because he still does so well.

Baines? I suspect that opponents are now marking him, pushing him back, which is why, perhaps, there is more room on the right for Hibbo to come forward. If I was the opposing manager that's what I would prefer. Let's look out for that one.

Drenthe? Wise coaches stick to the old saying 'play to their strengths, work on their weaknesses'. And this guy has fantastic strengths.

Jelavic has a sharpness about him which I like too, but to get the best out of any attacking player we have to improve the midfield - agreed.

Richard Dodd
330   Posted 04/03/2012 at 19:45:27

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The late appearance of Ken`s excellent reports means that most of the after-match comment is focussed on the lead game resume. A great pity.

As ever, I find myself much in agreement with his conclusions although, as I have confessed elsewhere, I slept through most of Football First`s second-half edit!

I love Drenthe for his goals but he offers little else and, as with Stracq, I think he has much more to do to be sure of another season here.

Like others, I begin to have concerns about Howard`s ownership of his area but it will be a long time before Moyes feels ready to replace him. The forthcoming visit of Spurs should see the return of `the real Everton`.
Ross Cooper
351   Posted 04/03/2012 at 20:28:23

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Another excellent match report. I, like many others here, really look forward to reading them.
I would love to feel that Jelavic has shown lots of potential, but I am yet to see it. I remember watching Lineker's hat trick in his first match at Goodison. Now that was pretty unmistakeable. Too much to wish for? Probably. I wish Jelavic well and hope he doesn't start trying too hard. A few quick goals should do it.
Dick Fearon
358   Posted 04/03/2012 at 21:29:24

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Defending against corners etc, our entire team crowds around the six yard box and this invites opponents to also crowd the area with extra men. Surrounded by so many moving bodies, Howard would be lucky to get anywhere near the ball.

If two of our players were positioned outside the area for a quick break it would force opponents to keep at least three players in defensive positions. Ergo, five less players in our box and a better chance to catch them on the rebound. To me that would be plain common sense, what do others think?
Another thing that puzzles me is why is Neville our only player who can do a throw-in? It is ridiculous that the game is held up while Phil lumbers 50 or so yards just to throw a ball.

I have seen others in the team try to quickly take advantage of good throwing opportunities and then I see the look of total disgust at having to wait.
Steavey Buckley
364   Posted 04/03/2012 at 22:23:01

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"Baines-Pienaar"

Because of that useless international break, Piennar was not as sharp as usual, when considering he had just done a round trip to South Africa to play in one of his countries meaningless games. And Baines was not his usual self after playing in a non event match against Holland, whose energies would have been served better teaming up with Pienaar against the QPR lads who patrolled the right side of their midfield with more energy and purpose, because they had all week to prepare to deal with an anticipated threat from Baines and Piennar which did not materalise.
Martin Mason
386   Posted 05/03/2012 at 02:19:07

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Fulham have a guy called Pregobnyak on loan looking to make it permanent. We should sell anything we have and buy him. He is devastating although AJ contributed to that.
Richard Harris
387   Posted 05/03/2012 at 02:40:36

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Generally poor from both sides. We lack pace and movement off the ball and the only evidence of that on the pitch was from the squirrel. Sign up the squirrel !!
Kevin Sparke
434   Posted 05/03/2012 at 10:47:25

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Nice report (as ever) Ken.

Everton looked seriously unbalanced in midfield and like you, I put that down to the same two factors.

Landon Donovan - he's a really clever player and some of his passing is sublime - we really do look a dangerous team with him in the side.

Gibson - understated player but him and Screech really do compliment each other in midfield.

In comparison to Donovan, Drenthe is a bit of a show pony - he'll do something magnificent, like that goal but then his head goes to footy junior school and he'll make the most awful hash of even simple passes.

To me he's always looking for the spectacular when quite often the simple pass is what is needed.

Don't get me wrong, his flair is a much needed antidote to some of the dross we've been served this season but I reckon his days are numbered and he'll not get a contract at the end of the loan - which in many ways is a pity.
Anto Byrne
455   Posted 05/03/2012 at 13:24:50

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From my seat, neither Cahill or Neville offered anything going forward. Can't remember one instance of Cahill getting forward and putting in a cross. Neville was a liability and on more than one occasion left us exposed.

The much maligned Tony Hibbert was solid in defense and good going forward but the final ball was wanting. The defence was good, Fellaini needs Gibson, Drenthe needs license to operate across the front line and refrain from tackles and adopt a simple shepherding defensive posture.

No service to the lone striker as the aim it seems was to keep ball in the middle and run down the clock and hold on to the point. Unfortunately we scored too early and that was it. I can't recall a clear chance after that other than Jellie finishing when offside.

Overall a 5/10 game for me and a point closer to 40.
Trevor Lynes
466   Posted 05/03/2012 at 14:25:28

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I would play Drenthe at home and use him as a sub for away games in case we are losing. He is inconsistent but capable of scoring from outside the box and putting in a decent cross from time to time.

I would love to see Barkley given a couple of starts before the end of the season as we are reasonably safe and definitely not in a challenging position for Europe. I would try him as a provider as he can at least beat a man and just maybe he could develop into a new young Scholes (????).

Phil Neville is an honest worker (drone) but is not other than a spoiler. We are crying out for some midfield flair and someone who can PASS accurately over more than five metres.

Jelavic must be supported properly otherwise he will go the way of the rest!
John Crossley
471   Posted 05/03/2012 at 14:58:13

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The number of away games I have been to this year and left so frustrated. The tactics employed are so negative, surely Moyes can see this or is it me?
The team selection, Neville in midfield, what the hell is this all about? He is so negative Ah well, Im just a paying fan what do I know?
Richard Dodd
478   Posted 05/03/2012 at 15:09:30

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Further to my earlier post, I've just read this quote from Davey re Drenthe:?

"Royston came from Real Madrid and you think they`d come and understand what we do here but they don`t straightaway.There`s a lot more on the defensive side of his game we need to work on. He can`t just do as he wants."

Some will say ay to that whilst others will bemoan the stultifying of `flair`.
Which side are YOU on?
Ross Cooper
493   Posted 05/03/2012 at 15:46:31

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I seem to remember that Alex Young did bugger all except win games. Hang on! Isn't that the point?

Drenthe shouldn't be allowed to defend! Keep him where he can do the damage to others rather than us....

If all our other defenders can't defend without him, we're in more trouble than I thought!

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