VIEW FROM THE BLUE:: 14/04/2012
Liverpool 2 - 1 Everton
An Evertonian more seasoned than I once mused that "they always beat us when it matters." I, like every Blue alive I'm sure, was so desperate for that depressing refrain to be changed today it was like a primal urge that sat in the gut all week. I hate the derby at the best of times but this was as good an opportunity as we have had to beat Liverpool in any game in years let alone a Wembley showpiece.
The script seemed already written: Liverpool in chaos; Everton in the best form of the season with David Moyes in his 10th year in charge at Goodison desperate ? destined, we all wanted to believe ? to mark that decade with his first trophy and end the Blues' 17 year run without silverware. The problem was that Everton blew their lines.
A goal up and in the driving seat at half time, this game was Moyes's side to go on and win but what was, in truth, a less than convincing first-half display fell away further in the second, culminating in a horrendous, game-changing error by Sylvain Distin just past the hour mark from which Everton never really recovered.
And there were further self-inflicted, critical wounds inflicted in the dying minutes when a clumsy tackle by Seamus Coleman sent Steven Gerrard crashing to the turf wide on Liverpool's left and Marouane Fellaini again betrayed his defensive vulnerability by completely losing sight of the ball for the resulting free kick as Andy Carroll leapt highest to divert the winner past Howard off the back of his head.
Utter despair was written across the faces of the massed ranks of faithful Blues who had made the long trek down from Merseyside. I'll wager few could quite believe it ? once again the bridesmaid to Liverpool and never the bride. Somehow they really do find a way to beat us when it really matters.
If both sides were honest they'd admit that neither played particularly well. For Kenny Dalglish's men, who could probably only count the Anfield derby as a good performance in 2012 thus far, that might have been expected but most Evertonians would have been hoping for more from their team than they got, coming into this semi-final as they were on the back of four wins in five, a hatful of goals and playing some really eye-catching football.
Nowhere to be found was the incisive passing and relentless pressing game that destroyed Sunderland in the quarter-final replay or the self-assured attacking machine that thrashed the same team 4-0 in the Premier League on Monday. Instead, a disjointed display unfolded with far too many long, wasted punts from the back from Tim Howard and a slew of misplaced passes in midfield, Darron Gibson the chief offender in the early going.
Chances were at a premium throughout but Jay Spearing side-footed over from Carroll's cut-back early on and Martin Skrtl saw a tame effort saved by Howard while Leighton Baines despatched a direct free kick a foot over at the other end before Leon Osman wasted a wonderful counter-attacking opportunity with an underhit throughball that could have released Nikica Jelavic.
It was Everton who eventually settled into a spell of dominance midway through the first half, though, and after Jelavic had seen an overhead kick caught by Brad Jones, the Croatian profited from a defensive mix-up to put the Blues into the lead after 23 minutes. Confusion between Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger ended with the latter's clearance bouncing off Tim Cahill and into Jelavic's path and he made no mistake by slotting a clean, low finish past the 'keeper.
The Blue half of Wembley Stadium erupted and went into raucous party mode but the attempt to go for the jugular never came and the goal did little to change the Blues' performance. Indeed, they almost pushed the self-destruct button when John Heitinga gifted possession in front of his own area but his profligacy went unpunished.
On the disciplinary side in the first half, Distin was harshly booked for a check on Suarez while off-the-ball skirmishes between the Uruguayan and Heitinga culminated in Suarez rugby-tackling the Dutch defender to the ground without referee Howard Webb even batting an eyelid.
And when the official was moved to intervene when Jelavic and Skrtl clashed after the latter had put a knee into the former's chest and then left his boot on the Croatian's hip, Webb deigned to book both.
Nevertheless, half-time, 1-0, so far so good.
Unfortunately, Everton started the second half on the back foot and never really got going again for the remainder of the match. Carroll somehow missed a backpost header that should have yielded an equaliser less than two minutes after the restart and more suicidal tendencies in the Blues' defence would hand the Reds' a way back into the match.
A scuffed back-pass by Distin gifted the ball to Luis Suarez and as dispicable a character as the Uruguayan is, he is too good to pass up an opporutunity like that and with the French defender watching aghast and helpless from the touchline he raced away to slide the equaliser under Tim Howard.
Back to parity with it all still to play for, though, the goal failed to galvanise Everton into upping their game. Though Jones was showing some discomfort at high balls into his area, the level of service was disappointing from Everton.
His performance at Sunderland hinted that Gueye could be an able replacement for Steven Pienaar if he is in the mood but today he looked off the pace and ordinary with almost no understanding between the young Frenchman and Baines down Everton's left flank. Cahill, too, was disappointing, failing to link up often enough with Jelavic while Fellaini never consistently took advantage of the license that Gibson's presence normally gives him to dictate things going forward.
It was all just flat and reminiscent of Everton at their stodgy, frustrating worst this season and it was only the tireless and battered Jelavic's own ingenuity that created two of the Blues' few openings in the second period.
First he drove through the centre before trying a 25-yard shot that sliced wide and later, after the Reds had leveled the score, he whipped a left-foot effort into the side-netting that had many Evertonians momentarily thinking he had scored. Jones was really only tested just once after half-time, though, when Osman hammered a 20-yarder that the 'keeper parried and then gathered.
Coleman came off the bench to replace Gueye with 22 minutes to go but he offered none of the unpredictability and pace that Royston Drenthe might have provided (the Dutch winger wasn't even in the squad) and after another suicide pass had created an opening for Carroll that he screwed wide of the far post, Liverpool eventually scored the winner from a needless and poorly-defended set-piece.
The winner came late and, frankly, even in desperation, Everton could do little productive in attack and, after Maxi Rodriquez squandered the chance to rub salt in the wounds by hitting the post when it seemed easier to score, Dalglish's side ran down the clock by the corner flag as despondent Blues started to make their way out of the stadium to start dealing with another gut-wrenching derby loss.
So, there was to be no second Final in three years for Moyes and Everton, no fairytale tenth anniversary trophy and no vindication for his controversial team selection at Anfield last month. Three times these two sides have met this season and Liverpool have won each time, prompting much soul-searching and questioning of just what kind of psychological barrier is preventing the manager's teams from beating what is a poor team by their standards.
Post-mortem second-guessing is probably worthless, though. Yes, in hindsight, Gueye was probably the wrong choice to start but he more than earned his place in the recent games against Sunderland. Distin and Heitinga have formed a formidable partnership in the centre of Everton's defence; it's just unfortunate that former's two worst performances have come against the enemy from across the Park. You can't legislate for an awful error as the one with which the Frenchman gifted Suarez the equaliser; certainly Phil Jagielka has been guilty of the same error in the past.
The blame should be shared by everyone. They came well-prepared, fit and in confident mood but, just as they did against Chelsea here in 2009, the players let themelves down on the day. As with that ultimately depressing Final, the Blues threw away a 1-0 lead and questions will be asked about Everton's big-game mentality ? after all, despite those treasuried memories of a dramatic penalty shooutout, it shouldn't be forgotten that the team was poor for 120 minutes in the semi-final against Manchester United as well.
The task now is for Moyes to pick his players up ahead of the trip to Old Trafford as they seek to finish as high as they can in the Premier League. Such is the Club's desperation for cash that every place will count. It won't make up for more Wembley heartache but a seventh-place finish would be small consolation at least for a season that threatened to be an awful lot worse than it has turned out to be.
Today, though, will be hard to forget. This was supposed to be our time.
Man of the Match: Nikica Jelavic
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447 Posted 14/04/2012 at 21:08:54
465 Posted 14/04/2012 at 21:21:47
468 Posted 14/04/2012 at 21:25:09
It's Groundhog Day every time we play them now. What is now, 4 wins out of 23/24 games against them? When will the Gobshite-ridden Media call out his record and tactics against the bigger clubs for what it really is?
Has ever an Everton manager been allowed such a dreadful record in the Derby's alone, his record is that he hasn't won a single away game at Old Trafford, Anfield, Stamford Bridge and Ashburton / Highbury in his time, what is now 43 games under his leadership? Acceptable for the country's 4th biggest club over a 10 year period, do me a favour!!!
Me personally, i would have sacked Moyes instantly after the most recent Anfield Derby, his actions that night sealed his fate in my eyes, to do that with the arrogance he showed (see his comments afterwards) was enough for me. I have never witnessed such disrespect to the fans as that episode.
Kenwright and Moyes have been trying to lower the bar of expectation for years, a top 10 finish is successful for the country's 4th most successful team? And the slide to being an also ran bordering on being mediocre continues on.
Moyes, if you feel that you can't compete any more, for Â£65,000 i'm sure someone who would love a shot at it, you're not bigger than the club, we took you from nowhere and we can easily put you back there again, remember Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Tottenham and many others didn't exactly want you did they when it came to getting a new manager? Why?
I'm very angry but not surprised at today's showing. A "mediocre" team like Joe Royle's FA Cup winning team would have had that lot beaten mentally in the tunnel before the game.
Moyes take your knife and frig off, we're in the big league with guns, we have been long before you came, nearly 50 consecutive years now, we want someone who sees the challenge and goes at it with a gritty determination and has the stomach for the battle and sees Liverpool the same way us supporters are. I've never heard an Evertonian accept that we are 2nd best to them. But to hear it continually from our manager?
If you don't get it by now, why don't you have a quiet word with Joe Royle, Howard Kendall and any of their players.
Another 5 years of this, i'm sure it will get to the point where Moyes won't even send out a team out in the Derby, just give them the 3 points, what's the point, they hammer us everytime no matter how crap they are so why go through the ritual humiliation twice a year?
Supporting this club under Moyes and Kenwright is really pushing the limits of tolerance. And i witnessed the pain of last day survival conquests. Those teams lacked ability but by God they had heart when it came to crunch time.
478 Posted 14/04/2012 at 21:35:01
481 Posted 14/04/2012 at 21:45:44
486 Posted 14/04/2012 at 21:47:13
506 Posted 14/04/2012 at 22:12:27
Next week will be no different.
511 Posted 14/04/2012 at 22:20:47
The change in the team after the break was en masse. I can only assume that whatever instructions were given was responsible. God help us if this continues.
524 Posted 14/04/2012 at 22:22:56
Next Man U manager?? Do me a fucking quaver!!!
552 Posted 14/04/2012 at 23:32:01
A new broom is required at Goodison desperatley. It's time Moyes was replaced,and it's well overdue the slimey,smug Kenwright was shipped out too.
I believe he was hogging the limelight pre-match again,thank god I was at the game and didn't have to suffer his grinning grid on my TV.
566 Posted 14/04/2012 at 23:56:59
It's not helped by Moyes 'underdog' tag: Fk off!! It sets the while tone. That's why Howard starts wasting time with 50 mins left which is what drags the others into being grateful we're ahead rather than think 'this lot are crap:we can get goals here'
The whole mentality is pathetic. Why can't we say 'we're winners and we're gonna win today'. What separates the great managers from the good ones? BELIEF. And Moyes has none and he transmits it to the whole club
Losing and being the 'plucky' underdog is now a self fulfilling prophecy. 'Haven't little Everton done well with no money'. While Stevie G's mob says 'come here and let me tickle your tummy like the lucky dog you are'
I'm sick of it. Sick of not turning up. Sick of being grateful, sick of the stilted crap football when matches actually matter and I'm tired of being the underdog
I'm a fking winner. My club are winners and I want a manager who will share that belief and make it happen
And you know what else? Distin is a clown. When we got knocked out of the Europa, at Goodison he brought down the opposition player in the box from behind and gave away pen AND got sent off. If he'd done it outside the area it would only have been a sending off. If he'd let the guy score it would only have been a goal. But he cocked it up for us twice in 1 go
And while I'm at it: Howard is not good enough. If you can't command your area then at least comman your 6 yard box (today's 2nd goal). Come through the crowd and take EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.
FFS, we're a pile of sh1t and we know it
567 Posted 15/04/2012 at 00:12:49
576 Posted 15/04/2012 at 00:35:51
619 Posted 15/04/2012 at 03:37:22
(Same Shit Different Day)!
Excellent summing up that Lyndon. Comment in haste, repent at leisure, which is why my contribution (like yours) comes now and not as a knee-jerk reaction.
Good that tyou mentioned the disciplinary side too. I was lucky to experience the debacle on Swiss TV with German commentary, which means it was neutral (hardly surprising for the Helvetic Republic!). The TV chap said: why no foul for the blues for the Suarez/Heitinga incident?
The other clash, between Skrtl and Jelavic was commented on with:
That was clearly a red card for the red player. Result 2 yellows!
No, we didn't lose the match because of Howard Webb even if he's no friend of Heitinga's It was always going to be a nightmare to blow for every incident in a fair way, which is why IMHO a "challenge" system with video evidence is a reform which is urgently needed.....
We lost the subtle mind-games beforehand, the tactics during the game, and the wily provocations from the dark side, especially against Heitinga.
Liverpool had an appalling disciplinary record in the previous matches before this semi-final. Sendings off, racist abuse, diving etc. It almost reached a bizarre level at Blackburn and still the RS won!
It's not just the win at all costs that the dark side practice but the win "dirty" at all costs if necessary.
Why do the team across the park nearly always win when it really matters? More guile, better and more subtle media coverage, more money and influence ( the one brings the other).
I know, we should" meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same" for our own well-being, but it is by no means easy!
Where do we go from here? A change of manager would be a step forward. Sorry, Mr. Moyes you've meant well but it just hasn't worked. You're not solely to blame, BK should be leaving too but there I'm less optimistic that it'll happen in the near future.
Will I continue to support Everton in the future. From a distance it's easier but how do you change the habits of a lifetime (after more than 2000 matches)?
622 Posted 15/04/2012 at 04:39:56
I've never seen a Liverpool so low on confidence and so poorly managed. Only a team with an even greater problem in both those areas could lose to them. The simple facts are that Sunderland is a more threatening side than this shower at the moment.
And every charismatic player we have seems to get benched by Moyes: Barkley, Vellios, Drenthe, etc. Watch Jelavic get benched for whining. And, yes, I hate that shit, but in the absence of any other type of passion on the pitch today, I'll take it. Moyes likes "honest" players who put in a shift. Well, none of them showed any leadership out there today.
We are on autopilot: We're not going to go down under Moyes; We'll probably remain in the top 10, but we will win NOTHING. What player with any real talent matched with real ambition would stay with us? What's our pitch? Where can we point to progress? Now we have to go for our annual hiding at Old Trafford.
675 Posted 15/04/2012 at 10:10:32
And the board either have to sell up or give the new manager some funds because there needs to be a mini clear-out now, starting with Cahill, Osman, Anichibe, Neville & Hibbert.
Our football sometimes has been very negative this season, as our goals for will show. Fans need changes to get them interested again... for us to renew our season tickets. So the ball's in your court, Kenwright ? you're supposed to be the Chairman... well, act like one!
678 Posted 15/04/2012 at 09:47:51
Nick #486 - totally agree, an amazing save. Shame it only saved us from complete humiliation. People would be talking about it for years if it'd been a match winner.
I threw all my chips in with Reds at work last week telling them we were going to batter them yesterday. A little voice in my head kept saying "Dont be stupid! Dont be stupid! Dont be stupid!!!" but I was convinced it was going to be our day, how could it not.......?! In fairness they to a man all admitted they were "shitting themselves" so looks like both of us had forgotten the rules in the build up.
As I understand it as a player David Moyes turned down a move to Arsenal, where he didnt think he'd get a look in, for guaranteed 1st team football at Cambridge United. It may / may not have been the right decision and the one he took I dont necessarily think is wrong, he carved out a career and played plenty but not at the very top. I would've probably made exactly the same decision in his boots.
I really like him, respect him, think he's a genuine bloke and has put his heart and soul into our club. I also think he's really talented and would love to see him with some cash to splash around. Imagine what he could do with Â£115m or whatever it is Dalglish has had...?! Its ridiculous, and until he does its probably unfair to judge him. I'm pretty sure he'll be devasted this morning too.
Like it or not he's a big part of our history now, and I'm proud to have had him as our manager, but something nags at me that part of the reason we, and he, get turned over by the like of Liverpool, Dalglish, Gerrard, Chelsea, Fergie, John Terry etc etc etc are linked to why he chose Cambridge over Arsenal, where none of the others would.
I hope he proves me wrong one day. He, and we, deserve some reward somewhere.
695 Posted 15/04/2012 at 10:09:58
But in truth I think we were lucky the scoreline was only what it was. I know it goes against the grain but in the second half they were quicker, stronger and as the cliche goes, seemed to want it more. Beforehand I know some people wanted us to go out all guns blazing from the off, high tempo - but personally I'd have preferred to have seen a repeat of last week's sunderland game - patient, possession football, not giving the ball away needlessly (asking a lot in such a high profile game I know).
Those of us of a certain vintage (mid 40's) must surely wonder if there isn't some kind of cosmic law that decrees we must always lose to them when it really really counts.
But what can we do? It's not like we can jump ship. We are who we are -Evertonians. Not bandwagon-jumpers or part-timers, not self-pitying, referee-blaming myopics, real fans who endure the (many) bad times and cherish the rarer good ones.
Hope the hangover is already wearing off for Blues everywhere today.
713 Posted 15/04/2012 at 11:56:56
747 Posted 15/04/2012 at 12:40:29
815 Posted 15/04/2012 at 15:24:16
When I saw how little we had to bring on from the bench, I kinda expected Liverpool to take the came in the 2nd half.
566 Posted 17/04/2012 at 05:20:35
Even before a ball, had been kicked we'd given Liverpool the upper hand by spouting out "We where the underdogs". It was as if Moyes, Round etc had already concocted the perfect excuse if we where beaten. Instead, we should have been more upbeat telling the media that we where confident especially on current form and installing the belief to the players that we would not take defeat lying down. Remember this game was a one off, winner takes all. At least if we where defeated we?d go down with a fight.
Look at the goal Everton scored. Carragher and Skrtel looked like the type of defending you?d find in a school playground (sorry kids). Surely the goal should have given Everton the momentum to realise if we get at their defence we can score again. Another point to consider is they even had Agger (usually a centre-half) playing at left back. Agger must know be asking each week if he can play there all the time. This is the type of player Everton should have been attacking. I cannot remember one Everton player getting the better of him. It baffles me to wonder what Moyes and the gang do when they go and watch opposing teams. I live on the other side of the world and I even I know Liverpool?s weakest part of the team is their defence. Did anybody see a tackle in the first few minutes that had the Liverpool players waving for a card to be produced, I never.
Hindsight is obviously the greatest word created when you?ve been defeated. Everton should have started with either Anichebe or Stracqualursi alongside Jelavic and left Cahill on the bench. This would have then given Liverpool?s centre half?s something to worry about. Instead we ended up isolating Jelavic by spraying long hopeful balls to him and supporting him on the odd occasions.
Unfortunately for Everton the second half was a disaster. Too many players went missing and the pendulum swung the way of Liverpool. Our overall play was pitiful and our game plan if we had one evaporated in front of our eyes.
Personally I believe that after 10 years in charge Moyes still does not know his best formation. If Moyes stays at Goodison next season he needs to take a long look at the team and make some harsh decisions. Obviously the biggest element of this will be the financial situation (a story that has been covered by every man and his dog). At home we need to play 4-4-2 against the likes of Wigan, QPR, Blackburn, Villa etc even Liverpool. Liverpool are not a better team than Everton it?s just that we have this mind set that they should beat us, we accept it.
If we ever want to break into the Big 4, 5 or is it know 6 (cannot remember what number it goes down to know that Liverpool have dropped down the league) we need to act know or we?ll always be catching the bouquet and never throwing it (sorry for the clichÃ©).
584 Posted 17/04/2012 at 08:00:18
We have lost many matches in the past, as we all know, and there has been an array of reasons and excuses which could be wheeled out. Terrible refereeing - and I don't ever remember a significant dodgy decision going against them- filthy play from their side, from the repellent Smith to the thuggish Souness to the truly disgusting whiny cheat Gerrard there has been a consistency. And in this we could take some comfort.
We always had a team which fought its corner. Often unsuccessfully, but I don't ever remember thinking "we just gave up".
We played like Tamworth taking on Manchester United (on a bad day). It was as if we believed that we could not take on and beat any aspect of Liverpool's play, hence the long hoof out of defence, to locations 20 or 30 yards from any Everton player.
Last night, I heard the commentary on the Wigan Arsenal game. It seems Wigan had never won at Arsenal, Wigan are in a relaxation dogfight, Wigan has not got a single good player (no disrespect, but I don't think Manchester City will be knocking down Wigan's doors this summer). But in the last 20, the last 10, the last 5 minutes - and despite being 2-1 up- Wigan attacked, and judging by the commentary, had Arsenal sufficiently worried that they were constantly worried and thus unable to keep up a continuous attack.
This seems to me to sum up the difference. Wigan's confident play won them - deservedly- an "unwinnable" game in great style. Everton cravenly adopted a "let's hope Carroll continues to miss sitters" approach.
And deservedly lost.
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