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Well that wasn't pretty......

By Richard Parker :  05/12/2007 :  Comments (21) :
The match just finished and I'm in Riyadh and haven't got anything better to do than to waffle on with my opinions of the match I just watched.

Not very good would be a one phrase synopsis. But as I have a bit more time, this being the Saudi version of Friday night and Saudi being a dry country..... I'll go into a bit more detail.

For the first 10 minutes I was on the edge of my seat. It wasn't composed, attractive football, but it was pretty exciting. The next 15 saw the edge of my seat turning to laid on the sofa.

Then an abysmal refereeing decision in our favour saw them down to 10 and us with the simple task of knocking a penalty in. At the risk of being branded un-Evertonian or not a real fan, I was a bit gutted that the decision was made, which was clearly wrong. I've been looking forward to watching this game for a week (there really isn't much to do here!) and the ref ruined the spectacle within 30 minutes. At least I was hoping to take some comfort from a relatively easy last 60....... wrong!

Once that penalty was missed and Carsely hit the post, there was little to enjoy after that. They were playing better football, even with 10 men and Moyes really seemed to be happy to play out the draw....

Had we been struggling against a full 11 players, I would have been happy enough to play for the draw, knowing it meant another 3 games in Europe. But against a 10-man side who clearly weren't incredibly talented (although our lot did their best to make it appear so), we should have been going for top spot and an easier (fingers crossed) draw in the next round.

It would appear that Moyes' defensiveness in this game is vindicated. 9 points out of 9 is more than the most optomistic and ardent Everton fan would have dreamed of.

So there we go, a second poor performance on the trot and second good result. If getting results when you play badly is the sign of a successful team, the 'big 4' had better be looking over their shoulder!!

9 games unbeaten is no mean feat and I won't take that away from Moyes, but I was really hoping that he would have given it a go tonight and tried to change things. It was clear that our midfield was completely out of the game. And before people get on at the defense for bypassing the midfield, how many times did you see more than one midfielder offering an option?

This was a game crying out for Gravesen. Zenit had no qualms about getting forward because we weren't worrying them one bit at the back. Gravesen would have got in the middle, demanded the ball and given them something to worry about. Instead, we had an enourmous empty space in the middle of Goodison Park. Maybe the rumours about Gravesen not being up to it any more are true?!

Anyway, for those who haven't got bored and stopped reading, as a side comment.... I wrote in the mailbag a while back about the run that we've just started in December being the acid test. That the fact that we keep going and score so often in the last 10 minutes was a very positive thing. It seems I was right.... also, we're going in to what must be the toughest period of the season unbeaten in 9. I don't expect that run to be intact at the end of the month, but we're in as good a position as we could have hoped for 9 matches ago.

I'll shut up now.

Come on you Blues!!!!

Reader Comments

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Alan Wilks
1   Posted 05/12/2007 at 23:17:21

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I dont thinks that's a fair comment to say we never troubled them at the back , they played good fast one-touch counter-attacking football, I'll say that. But we should have been 2 up at half-time if McFadden would have shot instead of passing to Johnson,

It's hard to break teams down when you're doing all the pressing (just look at how long their goalkeeper took on every goal kick) but we did in the end. They really only troubled us on the break. They are the Russian Champions give Everton a bit of credit for beating them. If you read every other sports site you'd think we got twated and that just wasn't the case.

Ste Riley
2   Posted 05/12/2007 at 23:16:35

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Fuck me I walked out at half-time only because my seat was at the opposite end of the main stand as to what the scatty stewards told me! But at the end of the day we got three points. Granted it wasn?t the prettiest 90mins of footy we will ever see at Goodison but who gives a fuck ? we need that bit of luck as every team does and at the minute we are getting the rub of the green. All we need now is for Nuremberg to qualify next game and hopefully meet them in the latter stages of the Uefa Cup so we can again meet top class fans from a top class club and top class pros. My word some of them birds in the windows were proper stunners that had my Belle Vale bell end! Everton+Nuremberg forever!
Danny Militwitch
3   Posted 05/12/2007 at 23:22:05

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Just got in from the match and I agree it wasn’t pretty for most of the game. The sending off followed by the missed penalty turned the game into a damp squib with only Carsley’s shot off the post giving us something to shout about. I thought some of our build up play was half decent, but it was all to infrequent and the final balls delivered by Neville and Baines were often terrible.
I dont think Graveson is cutting the mustard training in Finch Farm, otherwise he would be playing.
As it turns out Moyes made the right decision bringing on the lively Anichebe for the flattering to deceive McFadden, and perserveered with the little Aussie diamond Cahill even though he was having a bit of a quiet one.

Man of the match for me was Lescott closely followed by Lee Carsley.

Anyway, on we go with teh unbeaten run and we kept a clean sheet again, lets keep up the good work and we should be sitting pretty come new year.
Kevin Jennings
4   Posted 05/12/2007 at 23:28:48

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What game were you watching?

"I was really hoping that he would have given it a go tonight and tried to change things"........"It would appear that Moyes? defensiveness in this game is vindicated."

Moyes went with two up front as well as cahill in central midfield, is that not having a go?! I would argue that was one of the most attacking teams we have fielded this season.

"But against a 10-man side who clearly weren?t incredibly talented"

Anyone with a decent opinion can see that Zenit have bucket loads of talent. Arshavin is a quality player and its no suprise all the big clubs are chasing him. It would not suprise me at all to see this team doing well in the Champs League next year.

Your quite right to shut up now.
Den Masters
5   Posted 05/12/2007 at 23:43:14

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Blimey!If Tommy G couldn’t get a game tonight it bears out the story that he was a spent force when he arrived from Celtic.I guess we should have known Strachan wouldn’t have let him come back if he was capable of doing much for his team.
A sop to the fans here I guess for fucking up on Fernandes!
Arthur Jones
6   Posted 05/12/2007 at 23:56:28

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Credit where its due , remember the villareal away game ? we would have walked on hot coals to have had tonight?s result and performance then . The RS would be cheering the same if they?d done this in their home game against Marseilles . this is European football .. results count more than anything ..P 3 W 3 D 0 L 0 F 6 A 1 , that?ll do me
Simon Templar
7   Posted 06/12/2007 at 02:34:07

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Well said Arthur,
as the boy in the 70’s milk advert said EXXXXSACTTLY,
Liverpool, who are dey? I will take this result and wait for the RS to fail, phnarr, phnarr.
Michael Brien
8   Posted 06/12/2007 at 07:39:23

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How many times have teams struggled to win against 10 men ? We are NOT the only team to have problems in breaking down the opposition in such a situation.
Let’s give Zenit some credit - after all they have just won the Russian League - so it was always going to be a very tough match.
And let’s give our own team some credit as well - we are top of the group and we are through to the knock out stages.I am sure David Moyes and the team wanted to make up for the disappointments in Europe of 2 seasons ago. I think that they have gone a long way to doing that already
It’s a different type of football in these European Competitions, we have done well so far and the lads deserve a great deal of credit for what they achieved so far. I think your criticism is out of order.
Richard Parker
9   Posted 06/12/2007 at 08:31:28

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Kevin - by defensiveness I was talking about Moyes’ unwillingness to change things around in the second half. In a game against 10-men, where they were on top in midfield, something needed to be changed.

I’m not saying that Zenith weren’t a half decent side, but seriously, they aren’t anything incredibly special. We made them look good tonight, end of.

Michael - I don’t think my criticism is out of order at all. I was purely talking about the performance tonight, which was not up to scratch. Does someone want to argue that point?

What Moyes’ and his team have achieved so far this season is better than I ever hoped, which is mentioned in the article above.

Fair enough, we had an off night, it can happen. What disappointed me, again going back to what I wrote above, was the lack of any attempt to regain control of the midfield and push home our one-man advantage.
Robbie Shields
10   Posted 06/12/2007 at 09:47:24

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I know exactly where Richard is coming from. I actually think we played pretty well last night BUT we did AGAIN give the away team the whole of the middle of Goodison Park to play in on their own. It’s been said many times on this site and by myself a couple of times, we are missing the last piece of the jigsaw, a central midfield general to boss the game. I agree the second half especially was screaming out for Gravesen so we could hold on to the ball and pass it around, tire the oppositions 10 men out and play THROUGH the middle some defence splitting balls, they did it at least twice in the second half with 10 men.
Hopefully we will get the missing link in January, until then I am happy with the progress being made and most certainly the results. The football is getting better and I am seeing far less hoofball which is very pleasing.
john sreet
11   Posted 06/12/2007 at 11:48:07

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Yeah we should have gone for them like we did the Mettallists right!
Think Moyes has learned a thing or two don’t you?
Mark Hill
12   Posted 06/12/2007 at 11:52:00

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Jesus....we would bitten somone’s ball’s off five years, ney 3 years ago for a result like this be it against 10, 9, 11 or 12 men. The point you make about him settling for a draw, could it not simply be a matter of Moyes having faith in the players that were on the pitch. I thought we on the most part attacked Zenit. With them on the counter, were Tim (Gk) saved our bacon once or twice when they did just that..?

I for one am ecstatic to have got through to the next round, it’s fantastic for the club. Couldn’t give a monkey’s whether the UEFA cup is considered mickey mouse euro cup. It’s great experience for the lads (Moyes included) and we should bask in the light for a little while, christ it’s been some time since we did that.....
Neil McKinney
13   Posted 06/12/2007 at 11:32:25

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Richard - Gravesen is obviously your football panacea, but I beg to differ. More like a placebo.

We weren’t great last night but most of your observations (as has been pointed out by other posts) were naive or just wrong.

It often happens in games where a team goes down to 10 men. The punished side raise their game and work harder. Everything that is wrong about the English game was shown by Zenit last night when they gave us a lesson in pass & move, ball retention and counter attacking football. Their technique is far superior so to say they are not that good is just ignorant. Russian champions? Must be crap then.

However, Gravesen will solve everything. Do me a favour!
D Graves
14   Posted 06/12/2007 at 12:07:34

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Have just watched David Moyes’ interview from after the match and he made another reference to us being banned from Europe in the 80’s. Second time this week he’s mentioned it. Why start dragging it up again now? Really makes us sound like bitter blues.
Michael Brien
15   Posted 06/12/2007 at 12:19:03

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Richard : Maybe the performance wasn’t as good as in other matches but we won against a team that has just won their National Championship.The great team of the mid 1980’s didn’t dominate every game neither did the team of Ball - Harvey & Kendall. We are through to the last 32 and we seem to be adapting well to the requirements of European Competition.I think our lads deserve nothing but praise

D Graves : I think Moyes has every right to mention the fact that we suffered because of the European Ban. We had one of the best teams in Europe at that time and we had just signed a striker who would top the goalscoring charts in the World Cup.We were not allowed to compete through NO fault of our own.
If we don’t mention it then it gets too easily forgotten.It’s not about being bitter - it’s about reminding people that we had such a great team that was capable of winning the European Cup. Whenever anyone thinks of great English teams in European competition our 1985 team gets little recognition outside of Evertonian circles.
They shouldn’t be forgotten.Our history could have been so different. It’s not about being bitter - just about letting people know that great English teams in Europe are not limited to Man Utd,Liverpool & Arsenal.
Andy Ellams
16   Posted 06/12/2007 at 13:19:27

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Surely if we need somebody to control the midfield and do the simple things then the answer was staring us in the face last night. If Arshavin is prepared to talk to Newcastle, we must be an attractive proposition too. 6 or 7 million and we have ourselves a class act.
Dave Graves
17   Posted 06/12/2007 at 13:20:20

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Michael - The team in the 80?s was indeed ?capable? of winning the European cup but it didn?t. I don?t think that we can honestly imply that we should be considered "a great English team in European Competition". Also don?t the management & board have a responsibility for allowing the team to break up? The striker you talk about has said himself that he was suprised to be sold to Barcelona. I just think that it?s inappropriate to be talking about the ban 20 years later and all the ?what ifs? that this will inevitably bring about.
I think you?ve also fallen into the trap yourself of great English teams in Europe being limited to LFC, MUFC & Arsenal - aren?t you forgetting Villa & Forest who have actually won the Eurpean Cup.
Rob Hollis
18   Posted 06/12/2007 at 14:08:42

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Dave Graves. Maybe he is dragging it up because the shite should have been banned for life and the rest left to get on with European Competition. Maybe its because that critical point cost Everton years of drudgery and turned it into a struggling club. Maybe its because every other English Club should have taken legal action for loss of earnings and put the shite out of business.
Maybe its because that is one European ?success? that is conveniently forgotten when the shite blather on about what they have achieved.
Richard Parker
19   Posted 06/12/2007 at 16:52:46

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Neil - Gravesen is not and never has been any answer to everything. I think you’re missing my point, with an extra man we gave up the middle of the pitch. All they had to do was defend the wings, we couldn’t pull them about from the middle of the pitch and we were struggling to stretch them at all in the final 1/3. The alternative woud have been swapping out AJ & Faddy earlier for Vic and Yakubu, because we were trying to hit 2 small forwards from distance.

I don’t believe that Carsley and Cahill together in the middle of a 4-man midfield is the right balance. One plays too deep and the other too high.... but I guess it mut be naive or wrong to say that they had the better of the midfield even with 10-men.....

Did I ever say they were crap or are you just ignorant? I truly believe that we have better players than them and had we played to our ability last night they should have been well and truly beaten..... especially with 10-men.
Darren Gough
20   Posted 07/12/2007 at 15:58:06

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From my viewpoint, i watched an Everton team competing in a european competition against the Russian Champions and (10 men or not) at no point looking out of their depth or overawed. The more this team plays together, the better i think we look.

Sure, the football isnt setting the world alight right now, but we look like a european outfit who belong there - i?ve seen us knock the ball around better and get stuffed in the past, so whats wrong with making sure the results are right first and foremost, and then developing the football side the more we stay in the competition.

Personally, id rather take a good set of overall performances (wihch i think they?ve been) and still be in the competition, than trying to please the purists and now being out and watching everyone moan that we werent good enough.

Cheer up guys, surely still being in the uefa cup after xmas is a good thing?!
Michael Brien
21   Posted 10/12/2007 at 08:50:15

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Dave - "the 1980’s team was capaable of winning the European Cup but it didn’t" Indeed it didn’t but my point was that they did NOT get the opportunity to try for the European Cup. It was also rather difficult to hold on to our best players as they didn’t have the opportunity to play in European Competition.Why else do you think Gary Stevens and Trevor Steven moved to Rangers ?
I would feel a bit more charitible towards Liverpool FC if they had at least apologised to the other clubs that were affected by the European Ban.To my knowledge there has been no such apology. I actually feel more sympathy as regards the European Ban towards Norwich City and their fans.They won the League Cup in 1985 and would have been due to compete in European Competition for the first time.
I only limited myself to those clubs due to space - but I could talk at length about how Villa and Forest have never had the media acclaim they should have had. After all in those days you had to actually be Champions to enter the competition.
And before you start - I think the Champions League should be just that - for the Champions.I would have been happy in 2004 -05 with 4th place meaning a UEFA Cup place.
The European Competitions were good enough as they were and were only changed for money and greed not for football reasons

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