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Clattenberg Cover Up

By Steve Guy :  22/10/2007 :  Comments (0) :
I read somewhere recently ToffeeWeb (Tony Marshh?) that each of these matches is remembered because of one individual (e.g. AJ last year). If so, then Saturday will go down in the annals of these clashes as the ?Clattenberg Derby?.

With regard to the ?man of the match?, plenty of people have already commented on his incompetence and, frankly, his undoubted bias too. The bizarre thing was that, in the first half he had refereed quite well, allowing the game to flow despite rash challenges from both sides. This initially worked to Liverpool?s advantage; but as the half went on the Blues came into the game more and, whilst 1-0 probably flattered us at halftime, the goal had been coming (in terms of pressure exerted if not shots on target).

The second half started much like the first had ended, with Everton in the ascendancy and this made the equaliser all the harder to take. However, I have to say that, Tony Hibbert has done for us here with his poor positioning. Sorry, but if you are staying back to guard against a break, then you had better be closer to your man than TH was at the start of Gerrard?s run. The latter?s subsequent antics have tended to disguise the fact that better marking would not have allowed him to get as far as he did. Hibbert has history in these situations and doesn?t seem to learn; stay on your feet and just guide Gerrard away from the goal (where his momentum was taking him anyway). It would indeed have been a great goal if Gerrard had scored from the edge of our box in full flight with his left peg.

Gerrard is fast becoming the pantomime villain for Evertonians and he did himself no credit, but I would also suggest that Carragher is as bad if not far worse. Was there any point in the game where he was not moaning or becoming downright hysterical at the referee?

After Hibbert?s dismissal, I was screaming at Moyes to go 4-4-1. It was still only 1-1 and Liverpool, at that point, looked as though it would only be through another penalty that they would score (ironic hindsight unintended!). Instead we got overrun in midfield for most of the second half, as the Spanish Waiter put on fresh legs to take advantage of the extra man. Let?s be honest, if the Liverpool strikers had been any good in front of goal they could have run out 3 or 4 goals to the good. As it was, a modicum of luck, backs to the wall defending and profligacy in front of goal by those loveable red rogues took us into the final phase of the game with the score still at 1-1.

However, I think we have to look at Moyes?s tactics. On the one hand sticking with a 4-3-2 can be seen as brave. Personally I thought it was naïve. Jagielka had done a decent job of man marking Gerrard in the first half, but was struggling in a three man midfield. Neither forward had made much of an impression on the game (partly down to themselves and partly down to a distinct lack of service). The situation was screaming out for Carsley to come on and steady the ship in front of the back four, Baines into the midfield to defend (but with the capability to get forward) and with McFadden as the lone striker. All of these things happened, but too late in the game when we were already being run ragged. It was the lack of any change after the first sending off that undid us and that led to the second penalty; because by that time Liverpool were attacking at will and shots were raining in making a goal likely one way or another.

Clatternberg?s performance has covered up both Hibbert?s poor defending and Moyes?s poor second-half tactics. I was as incensed as anyone at Gerrard?s influencing of the ref in sending off Hibbert (regardless that, once given, it was a sending off offence), the fact that Kuyt stayed on the pitch after potentially ending Neville?s season (or worse) and the lack of a penalty for Carragher?s Giant Haystack routine on Lescott. However, I am disturbed by the frailties I saw in our own ranks too.

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