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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Alkmaar (A)

By Ken Buckley :  21/12/2007 :  Comments (5) :

No chance of going Dutch due to time and money so settled for Channel 5.

History made, debut's made, goals scored, goals conceded in a game that was vitally important to the hosts I wondered how we would approach it.

I had got my answer within the first minute — 'Go for it'.

This seemed to be the theme throughout the game which ensured a very open game and in the Blues case a lot of players out to prove a point when it comes to serious selection.

I watched the game with an eye on how much depth we really have should injury,suspension hit hard in the second half of the season.

Up front with AJ,Big Vic and Vaughan looking capable of unsettling far better defences than the AZ one I was encouraged.

The fullback area seems well covered with Hibbert and Valente having good games suggesting competition for Neville and Baines.

The centre back situation looks less clear with Yobo departing for six weeks and Stubbs still injured.

That brings me to the midfield.

Tonight we operated with only 50% of our usual compliment and I have to say that I couldnt see any sort of capable replacement for the othe 50%.

What we did have worked hard and played with spirit but that 'Quality' ingredient was missing that is vital against both Premiership and top European sides.January may yet determine the outcome of our season that so far has given us a great platform.

However that assessment is the now,last night saw the manager introduce and blood youngsters which suggests that we are still a work in progress but also one with our homegrown starting to make a push which in turn suggests a club with a plan not just for the 'now'

All in all I found it an excellent game to watch and try to see where we stand without the nerves and the passion of a must win game.

I thought we were disjointed for long parts of the game but that was understandable with the amount of changes made but amongst this I was impressed with the workrate, spirit and determination shown along with the managers changing formation and substitutions boding well for our future.

A big test awaits us on Sunday but it is one I look forward to and see no reason why we cant upset a few applecarts.

UP THE BLUES!

Reader Comments

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joe mcparland
1   Posted 21/12/2007 at 19:25:54

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Great read as always Ken. You’ve put into words almost exactly as i saw it.
Ajamu Mutumwa
2   Posted 22/12/2007 at 10:41:12

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Ken, what impressed me the most was this was our second string, and to me it was some second string. New players being blooded. All bodes well.

I was more impressed with our play. I don’t think we got out of second gear, but matched a side unbeaten at home in Europe for some 30 odd games.

What I’ve noticed is that our play is more mature. In the past we would have started to fling the ball into the box, but tonight and over our last few games we have been content to continue to build up play and try to dictate the pace of the game.

Without our own modern "holy trinity" of Pienaar, Arteta and Osman it was never going to be school of science - but the game has more significance for us as we didn’t need to win, but we set up our stall to win rather than draw.

Finally, Ken, thanks for your always thoughtful reports.

Seasons greetings to you, your family, Toffeeweb and the Everton online community.
Brendan McLaughlin
3   Posted 22/12/2007 at 19:00:27

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What I especially liked about our performance is that when they scored both times to equalise we stepped it up and looked as if our next goal was only a matter of time. By the way in my local bookies Alkmaar were 8/13 red hot favourites, Everton 4/1 outsiders. Result or what?
Steve Williams
4   Posted 22/12/2007 at 22:29:08

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Ken,

I think you are being a little harsh in your assessment of the midfield. It is not so long ago that we would have been very satisfied with that team as a first 11 never mind an optional extra 11.

Also, being in your armchair in front of the TV (and your fire!), you couldn’t have got an understanding of exactly how cold it was. I have never been as cold in my life. But the lads still played great.

Also the home crowd really produced some noise and willed their team on - but we withstood that and still played great.

So I for one am very happy with the squad for now - if we can add to it, as and when, then all well and good but if not, then we can look forward with confidence to most games.

Final word - the Evertonians were magnificent yet again. We simply never let up and the 20 minutes of constant ’I’ve never felt more like singing the Blues, when Everton win and "%&@ool lose ...." was a memory that I’ll carry for a very long time.

Even the club’s organisation was spot on.
Guy McEvoy
5   Posted 24/12/2007 at 09:57:01

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Steve Williams: I got that chant bottled on video - I you tubed it.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhr-2mZUvaA makes the hairs on your neck stand up!

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