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A cold night at Hillsborough

By Gareth Cooper :  27/09/2007 :  Comments (39) :
Well this was a fixture that I have been looking forward to since I moved to Sheffield just over 5 years ago. I have patiently kept my fingers crossed every year when watching cup draws... and finally it happenned.

Now for a PhD student being payed pitance, watching football these days is a scrimp and save effort. So it was nice that the night cost me only £15 (in retrospect this was probably a fair price but only for the 2nd half/result). Whatever the price, I think the commitment of the Everton fans was great. Our support tonight was frankly outstanding. An absolutely crammed away end really put to shame the scattered home stands, as on most occasions we drowned out the home chants.

Everton first half, however, did not deserve the commited support and did little to inspire us. The performance was abysmal. Tony Hibbert was garbage down the right, both defensively and going forward. Wade Small, their nippy winger embarrassed him twice, with little skill, and 'Tone' was lucky not to be sent off. Thankfully at half time Neville replaced him, and quite remarkably changed the game. Yes that is not a typing error, at right back I really believe Phil Neville can be a force in our team. With the addition of Baines second half we looked like a team with purpose down the flanks.

The second half was much better almost instantly. Neville involved the useless and disinterested looking Pienaar and then expertly overlapped to provide crosses. When Baines was on he improved the involvement of Osman and we looked a much more balanced team. We were by no means the finished article and continued to be frustrating, but for a team low on confidence after a poor week, an improvement was definitely apparent.

There were no great shakes in the middle where I feel Gravesen along side Jags will be better than anything including Neville or Carsley.

Up top, Yakubu was strong and had a better game, holding up the ball well at times (and the finish of an £11M striker when he got the chance!). McFadden tried to overcompensate for frustrations further down the park, and ended up losing the ball a lot first half. He, however, is a special player at times and did enough here to warrant Moyes seriously considering his inclusion in the 'First Team' in the league. The big question is whether his cocky swagger and brimming confidence is better than the tirelessly selfless, misfiring Johnson? Can they both be included as well as Yak?

We eventually turned in 3 good quality goals. It would be nice to see a bit of confidence come from this and see us take on teams with the ball on the floor. We are so much better with full backs who are willing to get down the line, overlap and link well with midfielders. I plead Mr Moyes to play Neville at right back and Baines at left back. This will rid us of a lot of the crap hoofball that we've seen too often in the last couple of games. I'll hope to see further steps forward from this on Sunday at Goodison!

Oh yeah, it was bloody freezing for most of the game. But the result and the hope of things to come have warmed this blue heart (slightly). Good luck in Kharkiv too boys... Now that will be a cold one!!

Reader Comments

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Jack Johnson
1   Posted 27/09/2007 at 12:33:58

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The other day I mentioned how much I disliked Hibbo as a player. Just look what happens when Moyes takes the clown out and puts Neville in his best position. Surely this was proof, if it was needed, that Hibbert's the weakest link in our side and must be shipped off ASAP!
Lee Kidd
2   Posted 27/09/2007 at 14:00:08

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He’s not even a weak link - he’s a huge gaping gap in the chain where the link was destroyed ages ago.

He’s not even a footballer.
David G
3   Posted 27/09/2007 at 14:20:41

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I’ve read a cioule of times today that Moyes only took Hibbert off to save him from a second booking and subsequent red card - and not because he is fecking useless. Incredible.
Paul Burdett
4   Posted 27/09/2007 at 14:44:26

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Maybe he was just saying that so as not to knock Hibbert’s confidence too much by having a go at him through the media...
Steve D
5   Posted 27/09/2007 at 15:03:36

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I have to totally agree with this article, the first half was shocking. Hibbert and Valentie were the worst culprits. As soon as Neville came on we had some balance and width. i know Phil wants to play in midfield but he has for the sake of the team play on the right, surely this performance proves that..
6   Posted 27/09/2007 at 15:28:42

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Apparently Hibbert is set to miss the weekend fixture with a groin problem. Thank heavens!!

Its come to something when you look to fate to force Moyes to make a change for the better. I’d love to know what he sees in some of his players as it mystifies the hell out of me.
Neil Styles
7   Posted 27/09/2007 at 15:35:30

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Great win last nite even though it took us a while to get going. Further, I am delighted that Yakubu scored I was a worried that he could be another Beattie. Anyway, does anyone know anything about AvdM? The official site said he was going to play tonite but in the end he wasnt even included in the squad?! I know they’re not identical in style and make-up but replacing Pienaar with Andy seems like a really good idea especially considering the South African has made virtually no impact since his arrival.

8   Posted 27/09/2007 at 15:49:03

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Not been impressed with Pienaar yet either. As for last night - 1st half was dreadful but much improved after the break.
9   Posted 27/09/2007 at 15:46:55

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I hate having a go at our players but its so obvious Hibbert is a poor footballer, when passed to his second touch is usually a tackle or his heads down and a long ball is launched.

Phil Neville is not a CM he is a poor passer cant beat a man and creates nothing

Neville at RB is a must he gets forward and puts a decent ball in

10   Posted 27/09/2007 at 16:04:25

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On the club web site it says duo injury worry for Boro game.

The worry is Hibbert could be fit and were made to sit through another 90 minutes of him
Andrew Bentley
11   Posted 27/09/2007 at 15:50:43

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This season, with the way we are playing has got me thinking about a change in formation. It seems that we do not possess in this club any out & out wingers (apart from AvdM), so why do we persist in playing 4-4-2.
When we play this way, unless we have players willing to link up between defence & attack then the strikers just become more and more isolated and we end up playing hoofball all the time. Dare I suggest that we actually look at something resembling a 5-3-2 or a 3-5-2.
This way we can drop hibbo, play nev at right wing back, and baines at left wing back. And can afford to play 3 "creative players" in the middle rather than the 2 defence mids we seem to constantly play at the moment. Surely a midfield 3 of Gravesen, Arteta, cahill would link up and provide creativity for the forwards. And even with the injuries we’ve got at the moment, maybe playing 3 from Pienaar, Osman, McFadden, carsley, & jags would improve the way we are playing, as 2 of the 3 would be more attack minded at least.
I know a lot of people would suggest this is a rubbish idea, but surely you need to pick the tactics to suit the players you’ve got and not pick players to shoe horn into positions because you want to stick to 4-4-2.
Anyway - just a thought.
12   Posted 27/09/2007 at 16:17:54

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Sorry folks, but i rather have tony blue heart in my team then some ass granny sicko pro ’once a blue, always a blue’ shite player in manchester...

sorry that came out...

letd get off tony’s back ok... the last thing i want is to play a shit game and have fans talking abt it on possibly the number 1 unofficial everton site...

so tony, just wanna say thanks for saving us for those numerous clearances off the line, wonderful hard accurate tacklings, and for giving me endless hope on my 1 for 10,000 quid bet in u scoring ur 1st everton goal... And still betting on...

COYB. 3 0 this weekend. yak, faddy and johnson to score... mayb 4, tony to score the final one...
T Hibbert
13   Posted 27/09/2007 at 16:34:21

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What about the great cross I put over at the end of the first half last night? Credit where credit’s due please everyone. Anyway must get off to make moyesy a coffee...
14   Posted 27/09/2007 at 16:42:33

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yeah, coz rooney was a great full back wasn’t he?!!

anyone who thinks that hibbo shouldn’t be criticised is a fucking idiot. He is the new Unsworth and we know what happened at goodison with him.
tony gee
15   Posted 27/09/2007 at 17:03:53

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you sir are clueless.....

Tony Hibbert is a championship full back at best.... i said the same about Gary Naysmith, and surprise surprise look where the yard dog is now....

16   Posted 27/09/2007 at 17:14:37

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Hey guys guys.... i firmly agree with naysmith being cmshp material... and i fully agree tony’s nt playing well and cap phil is a much better right back....

but all i am saying is cut him some slack.... the abuse he is getting on tw is way out of line... its becoming personal and u guys know h doesnt deserve this... ok, so he’s not playing well, so put him in the reserves for a while.. but let moyes be the one who decides... he meets the players everyday... he talks to them, watch them during training, so let him do his job.. hes the one with the coach licence... Aint us...

... on second thoughts, 5 0 to us on sunday... yak, faddy, johnson, tony to score 2 from the pen spot.. :P COYB.
Patrick Gillen
17   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:12:44

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Hey ladies(St Dixon and Tony Marsh) your both blues aren’t you? Then stop gettin at each other no need for that St.Dixon, you both are intitled to opinions. I for one think that we should see how Moyesey does this season, he is making a new, young side at the moment that is full of prospect so give the guy a chance until end of season, I agree that hibbo is crap, we do need Neville to fill in at right back with mad dog n jagielka in mid at least until Cahill gets back. Also I think that we should play Yak, Faddy n AJ but do we change to 433? any thoughts?
18   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:21:13

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St. Dix lad wot woz the point no Swearin!

Gareth Cooper
19   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:14:36

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Oh dear. My match review has only seemed to fuel the hate bandwaggon for Hibbo and (oddly) resparked the Kirkby debate.

Hibbo did play badly last night and has not been on form recently. He is substandard for the first team in my opinion, but I feel a few have gone too far with this. He does have blue blood, which doesn’t mean we should cut him all the slack, but we can at least give him some respect.

Andrew Bentley: 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 is food for thought. Including Cahill, Arteta and Gravesen like that whilst retaining attacking wings and a solid backline would be great (personally i’d have Jags at the back with yobo and Lescott in this formation)

Cheers to the editing boys for including my ’fan artcle’ btw. Much appreciated
St Dixon
20   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:27:36

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The last point was not me. Someone is trying to take the piss
The Scientist
21   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:26:36

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get off Tony Hibberts back hes become the new Unsworth,because the midfields shite and unwilling to take the ball from the defence he invariably ends up with it at his feet with no options but to hoof it,Carsley hides and so does Neville so whats he supposed to do,Yobo constantly drops him in it cos he couldnt hit a barn door from 30 feet,its down to Moyes to coach the midfield to come and collect the ball and no player should be left without an option,its down to bad coaching,this goes right across the team poor off the ball movement,poor positioning,poor distribution,it all leads back to Moyes,hes not good enough and the players look lost for tactics in every game we play.
james elworthy
22   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:47:15

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Pienar’s career has nosedived in recent seasons and he certainly not going to succeed in the toughest league in Europe, he is too lightweight.
I have stated ever since McFadden scored his wonder goal for Scotland to play him. He is the form player of the moment and hopefully will start Sunday.
Phil Neville is a decent right back and hopefully he will be left in that position.
Stubbs should keep Yobo on the bench Sunday
Michael Upton
23   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:40:17

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First half was shite, no question.

But even though Wednesday are a poor side, I was pleased to see the Blues knocking it down and passing it, regardless of the opposition, after the break.

McFadden is a real confidence player and looked great after his first.

I think Pienaar has been unfairly slagged. He was not superb first half, fine, but looked handy in the second and has only been here five minutes.

As for Phil Neville, I never thought I’d say this but he was inspirational, a real attacking force down the right, and as ever led the applause for the (excellent and massive) away support.

Hibbert looked undone by pace and skill as he often does but we’ve known about that weakness for years. In a backs to the wall situation he is useful to have around but he’s never going to be an attacking wing-back.

All in all, it could’ve been much worse. Keep it down and pass it and once Arteta, Cahill and Gravesen come back we might have a team.
St Dixon
24   Posted 27/09/2007 at 18:57:00

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Again apoligies to Tony and Daz. Some dickhead hijacked my name and put his moronic comment on. Tony i dont accept that any of the managers listed could do a better job. Coppell took about five goes to get it right and they are now near the drop zone.
Hiddink, is far too expensive.
Dowie, is a good man to man manager but tactically flaud,
Dario, is far to old and the only club he has managed went up and down the divisions like a yoyo.
Anyway last night game showed once and for all Neville is a Right Back and Hibbert is a reserve (for some other team) player and Tony if we see Phil in the centre of the midfield i will be shouting dowies name myself.
nathan snell
25   Posted 27/09/2007 at 19:01:52

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Ray - I agree, only I believe that man management skills are instinctive, and natural.

In my humble opinon I think DM (who has my backing to take us forward) needs to take TM to one side and ask TH what, and why his initial instinct is to send the ball 40/50 yards when the easier, and more constructive method is to find feet 4/5 yards away.

I agree that time in the reserves will generate TM confidence, and where he can develop his attacking game, as I feel he is very good defensively.

With regards to the result last night I think this is the steping stone for a great run.

Not an easy tie, and most would of seen this as an upset, but it wasn’t.

3-5-2 is a really interesting proposition with Cahill, Arteta, and Graveson in the middle AJ and Yak...or Mcfadden up top...!

Chris Kukone
26   Posted 27/09/2007 at 19:46:26

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Watched the blues at Hillsbrough last night and it proved a real wake up call for where we are as a club. Sheffield is a big city and Wednesday were a big team, they got 16k attendance including probably 3k blues. Parts of Hillsbrough looks like a shed and they have lost 6 of the last 7 in the championship. I only knew 2 of their players. Meanwhile Everton are in Europe (for the moment) have an improving squad full of current and future internationals. We have great support, a manager that is respected and the potential of a new ground. Albeit the last 2 points can be debated. Overall I am happy being a blue, things still need to improve and I want more, but useful to remember there are loads of "big" clubs sinking into oblivion with no future. Here?s hoping we don?t screw up in the Ukraine as I think a european run would make things even better !
Christopher Michael Clough
27   Posted 27/09/2007 at 21:14:26

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Everton do have some fine players now, though some of their best are unfit. What they do need now is far more off-the-ball movement, balls passed to feet - and no more losing possession with that ridiculous head tennis and/or defenders kicking away possession. Come back Ball/Harvey/Howard (Cahill/Arteta/Gravesen (Osman?) (Pienaar next year?). Chris Clough.
steve pugh
28   Posted 27/09/2007 at 21:43:45

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hibbo is a good squad player so should stay and have time to mature, he always looks focused and willing to graft.he is more of an asset than valente, andy vdm, de silva and even yobo sometimes (lets hope all his season howlers were at villa ) because he is fit and available (african nations cup ) most of the season.
yes the squad is too small and this means we have to pick the team from who is available,
the defence has been made to look bad because of the midfield crisis, everton’s midfield were poor against bolton till gravesen came on and could not keep or pass the ball at villa, fingers crossed that we have some midfield quality back soon ,
and buy a quality creative player in january .
29   Posted 27/09/2007 at 22:17:53

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Neville in at RB - obvious. I don’t care if he wants to play in midfield - he’s crap there. He can’t pass, nor beat people, so being at the hub of the team is a waste.

Speaking of wastes... Hibbert. I have nowt against the guy personally, but his form is SHOCKING. He’s really being found out this season. At fault for several goals, no positional sense, no passing ability (just boots it) and doesn’t get forward. This is Neville’s best position - as evidenced last night. Stick him there.

Formation thing is interesting. While we do have guys who can play on the wings - Arteta, Ossie, Faddy, Pienaar, even Shandy Meyde - we don’t actually use the wings much. I’ve thought a 4-3-1-2 formation might work - with our best 11:






Problem is, you’d then have Ossie, Pienaar and Faddy all on the bench - way too similar in nature. And ideally, you’d want to attack the flanks or bit, or risk things getting bogged down in the middle. Just a thought, though.
michael coffey
30   Posted 28/09/2007 at 11:31:38

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give Hibbert a break - i’t can’t be easy being fullback for a premiership club and President of Russia at the same time.
Steve Lyth
31   Posted 28/09/2007 at 13:02:23

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Hibbo and Valente out for Sunday, Christmas has come early !
Tom Davies
32   Posted 28/09/2007 at 13:26:56

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I unfortunately couldn’t go and didn’t feel up to the ale ouse so I listened to the game on radio city instead. There did seem to be a huge impact in the 2nd half when Moyes had made his changes.

But I really do think we should stand by Hibbert, I’ve had a lot of stick for saying this stuff to me mates but 2 seasons ago before he went out injured he was a great player to have and was the best physical defender in the premiership who saved us from a sly goal so many times. At least give him a few more months to get himself back to speed because I don’t think he’s ever recovered from his long time out.

Just look at Osman, last season all I heard was how rubbish he was and people questioning his place in the squad. Well he’s improved alot since summer and I think we can expect alot more from him.

But I was also one of the very few who stood by Simon Davies, and that didn’t really work out for him did it.
John S
33   Posted 28/09/2007 at 14:42:21

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Hibbert is an example of a player who has been at his favourite club too long. He needs a change.

His passing, heading and far-post marking are all poor, however, he is as blue as any of us and he is an excellent tackler/harrier and his head never drops.

That said for my money his best move would be to use the January window to escape to a leading Championship club where he can rediscover his form. In the circumstance described he would go with our best wishes in the same way Beattie and Unsworth have donbe in recent times.
Steve Syder
34   Posted 28/09/2007 at 16:00:38

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Tom Davies got it spot on - Hibbert has never reached the potential he showed before his long-term layoff.

It’s very sad - the lad is such a committed Evertonian, but then again, so am I and it’s not enough to get a game!
Michael Brien
35   Posted 28/09/2007 at 17:04:44

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Tony Hibbert and Andrew Johnson, both currently lacking in form and confidence.Hibbert’s distribution leaving a lot to be desired and Johnson not looking like scoring.
However the reactions of supporters to both is quite different.The attitude to Andrew Johnson is supportive and understanding even the second penalty miss which was one of the worst ever seen at Goodison results in an ourpouring of understanding rather than condemnation.
Tony Hibbert however has a totally different reaction.I know he’s not playing well and I agree Phil Neville should be at right back - but lets give Hibbert the same backing AJ gets.
liam bird
36   Posted 28/09/2007 at 18:24:37

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4-3-3 wud b a quality formation
2.neville 3.yobo 4.lescott 5.baines
6.arteta 7.graverson 8.osman 9.mcfadden 10.yakubu 11.johnson note: hibbert is a clown and shud never set foot in the changin rooms.
steve pugh
37   Posted 28/09/2007 at 23:26:13

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try supporting the players,
you may be rewarded,
every one THINKS THEY ARE an expert now a days, pick on the players who cant be bothered
not the ones who lack what YOU want.they do try to please
38   Posted 28/09/2007 at 23:58:18

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should have a few young players coming through now,
as the FA are now sponsored by TESCO and not nationwide
Luke Jones
39   Posted 01/10/2007 at 11:19:29

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People may criticise everton’s performances recently but don’t forget it was only 7/8 years agto when we used to watch the garbage tactics of walter smith & co....... the long ball tactic which was the only way everton could play with kevin campbell & ferguson, we didnt have any flair players that could produce those special moments until slaven Bilic came in and he really was the only player that would get the ball down and attempt to play with it and create things, he may not have been the best in the world but he turned our club into a passing team rather than the long ball crap, so before we start criticising players for slack performances we have to look at how far the club has come in the way we play......o and get rid of that tony hibbert he’s s*** and shud be shot, phil neville is a definet full back, arteta and pienaar our wingers cahill graveson occupping central AJ and Yak up front COYB

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