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A Possible Explanation

By John Cottee :  06/03/2008 :  Comments (30) :
I simply do not subscibe to the opinion that Fiorentina are the first good team Everton have played and the boys simply aren't all that good after all. We know Everton are a good team. The Premier League is arguably the best league in the world and Everton are currently fighting for 4th place so I will not agree with the theory that Fiorentina are head and shoulders better then us.

Like us, Fiorentina are a damn good side. They sitting in a league alongside Juventus, Inter, AC Milan & Roma. Just like Everton are in a league alongside Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea & Liverpool. In a way Fiorentina and Everton are in similar situations and on paper the game should have been alot closer then it was. So what went wrong?

Carsley/Neville in midfield together? Osman/Pienaar not good enough to play at this level? Yakubu lost up front on his own? I'm not having any of that. The ease at which Everton dispatched Pompey and Man City recently proves that those things are not true.

The simple fact is that, for some reason, the lads looked nervous, lacked composure and were half the team they usually are. The cause of all this nervousness and lack of confidence? Well, Fiorentina are a big-name European side. Everyone has heard of them. The pre-match programme was full of talk about how great a club they are, the legends that have played for them, the history that the club has, and that famous victory when Batistuta scored in the 2-0 drubbing of Man Utd.

I can understand why the Everton boys may have been a little nervous going into this game.... Do you think the Italians were thinking the same of Everton? Everton are a club who has hardly played European football over the last 20 years. Everton's most famous European victories were over two decades ago. Everton have never beaten Italian opposition. Their biggest European scalp in the last two decades.... Dinamo Bucharest? Everton whose most recognisable world-famous star is..... Yakubu? I wonder how many players the Italians had actually heard of before tonight?

When the fixture was annouced I wonder if the Fiorentina fans had ever previously known of Everton much less players like Osman, Cahill & Carsley? Everton simply do not have the big name to frighten European sides.

There's not a lot between Liverpool and Everton. Two teams with the same points in the Premier League. But the Italians fear Liverpool. The Reds have a famous name and they can beat anyone at Anfield ? just ask Inter. Man Utd are the same. It's taken some time but Arsenal are just now getting to that stage.

The sad fact is that when the fixture was annouced the Everton fans all knew who Fiorentina were while the Fiorentina fans probably didn't know who Everton were. I believe that the Everton players are good enough to beat Fiorentina but let the occaision get the better of them. It will take time and regular European football before Everton get the respect needed to strike fear into the Italian giants.

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Michael Hunt
1   Posted 07/03/2008 at 06:57:56

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Well said John. I simply don’t understand it really, we were a shambles compared to the side we’ve witnessed in 2008. As a team, we just did not stand up and be counted and play anywhere near the capability the team has.
It looks near impossible to get through, but it is not impossible if we play to our capability. The players need to be as ’up for it’ as they would be for a derby game.
Let’s have the atmosphere hit them like a steam train when they come out of that tunnel at Goodison and throughout the 90 (or 120) minutes.
Brian Williams
2   Posted 07/03/2008 at 07:16:33

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I’m glad somebody else started this thread because I was going to struggle for an opening line and a title.
I tuned in to ITV4 last night and watched Fiorentina play....who?..I don’t know because that wasn’t Everton, nothing like them.
Everything good about our side this season had gone, somehow.
Fiorentina were a decent side, and that’s as much as I’m prepared to cede. Had the real Everton turned up last night they’d have had no problem in holding Fiorentina or even sneaking a one nil away win....
Can’t explain it, still scratching my head over it all. Trying to think of anyone who had a decent game...
Gutted !
Thing is, if Everton play like they CAN, we could overturn that nightmare next week...thing is, has the damage already been done to the confidence which last night was sorely missing.
Dutch Schaffaer
3   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:03:48

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All I hope is that next week Everton play like we know they can and beat Fiorentina.

If its not enough to take us through then so be it, so long as we play well and win.
Colin Grierson
4   Posted 07/03/2008 at 07:55:32

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I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the confidence issue Brian.
We looked like a team lacking in confidence last night when we should have been brimming with it considering our current form.
I think you’re right too John. The name of the opposition and the occasion had us like rabbits in the headlights and was perhaps the cause of the lack of confidence.
I think the fans can help the lads gain some of the confidence back. Lets not let the ’ground in’ negativity return. One dismal performance doesnt make us a useless side. Fiorentina aren’t a benchmark by which our progress should be measured just as Oldham aren’t.
It’ll be tough to pull the tie around but its not over yet.
Remember how you were feeling at half time at home to Bayern all those years ago? Remember the stunned silence at half time at THAT Wimbledon game.
I remeber the joy of turning it around at half time both times and want some more. COYB its only half time!
Jimmy Rim
5   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:00:45

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Yes we lacked confidence but probably rightly so as we were out of our depth last night. Did you see the difference in their passing and control? The passing, control outdone us there last night. We were trying to harrie them as we do in the EPL but it doesnt work against a team who always have a couple of yards on you. In fact it just opens up gaps behind you when you go flying in. The sad fact is we have a glass ceiling in ability in our team and you cannot afford passengers at this level. Carsley, Neville, Hibbert haven’t got the technical ability and never will. Yobo, hoofing the balling, giving away possesion also will not cut it against a quality passing opposition. Believe it or not I don’t feel negative about the situation it’s just woke me up to what I knew already, which is that we need further quality within our ranks to go from a good EPL team to a Premiership contender and European force
Paul Turner
6   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:07:37

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Totally agree John. I think Fiorentina were just given far too much respect on the night and we just werent hungry for the ball like we have been most of this season.
I did notice we were lapsing back into out old habits of getting players behind the ball but not actually marking the opposition and with the midfield so deep, any long ball break was so long there was either no support or it was easy for their defence to surround the Yak and keep him quiet.

We can play so much better and i’m just praying that an early Yak goal next week will rebuild the confidence and show Fio just what sort of team we really are!! It’s not over yet. COYB!
Dutch Schaffaer
7   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:25:21

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The really annoying thing is that Fiorentina aren’t all that great.

They looked good because Everton played so badly.

If Everton had played with the confidence and form of the recent Man City game then they would have turned Fiorentina over.

I agree with John, the players are guilty of letting the occaision get to them.

The match winning players like Osman, Pienaar, Yakubu, Cahill, Arteta and AJ all looked like a rabbit in headlights.
Steve Hogan
8   Posted 07/03/2008 at 08:46:32

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Of all the explanations for Everton’s poor performance last night, I think Jimmy Rim’s is nearer the mark.

We simply don’t have the personnel to retain possesion long enough to frustrate the opposition.

Time after time we gave the ball away, and I’m sorry as much as I admire the workmanlike displays of Carsley, we need to improve this area of the team with more technically gifted players if we are to make real progress at this level.

Also, I have yet to see a team progress in either the Champions League or the UEFA Cup who rely so much on the ’long ball’ game.

It simply does’nt work in the upper echelons of top european football.

Possesion really is 9/10ths of the law.

I don’t think we ’froze’ at all, we were just beaten by a technically better side.
Richard Parker
9   Posted 07/03/2008 at 09:07:10

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Agree with Steve, Fiorentina were just better than us.

Unfortunately, they played well, while we were well below par. On our day we can beat them, but now we have to break down their defence and knock in 2 goals at Goodison. On that showing, I’m not confident!

I don’t think the blame can be laid solely at the feet of the Carsely/Neville partnership. All the lads just didn’t show up (I’d exclude Yobo, Jags and especially Howard from that), Fiorentina started well and moved the ball about quickly and our lot shat it. We never looked like competing.

But it is true that we are a better side than that, we’ve got 90 minutes to prove it next week!
Dave Whitwell
10   Posted 07/03/2008 at 09:45:14

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Interesting comments, however I don’t believe that playing an EPL style doesn’t work in Europe, the reason Liverpool, Man Utd & Arsenal do so well is very much because they play like an EPL club, they play at a high tempo, just luck how frightened Inter were against Liverpool right from the off. Thats what we need to do next week, get straight at them and put them on the back foot. Against both Man City & Portsmouth we could have scored 4 or 5 so we need to not worry about the away goal and just look to score as many as possible. 4-1 would be fine.

Lastly though I think even more importantly is to leave next Wednesday alone until after Sunday. Sunderland is a huge game and thats where our focus should be, anyone fancy another 7-1 and closing the goal difference!
Kieran Fitzgerald
11   Posted 07/03/2008 at 10:50:32

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The focus definitely needs to return to Sunday?s game. The game last night will come as a shock to the players as much as us fans. You don?t want to see a run of games where we are just dreadful, throwing away all the good work over the season so far.

If things are handled properly over the next seven days, I think the team can learn a lot and bring it forward to next season. We are unused to this level of European football and I think we need to experience the bad as well as the good if we are to really progress. Imagine how much better prepared we will be next season if we get things right over the next couple of days.
Alan Clarke
12   Posted 07/03/2008 at 11:00:59

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All season we’ve been complaining that Neville is garbage in midfield. That’s why we were garbage, we couldn’t hold onto the ball. We played so deep with that midfield pairing that the Yak was totally isolated. Moyes needs to show a lot more balls in the home leg.
Alex Taylor
13   Posted 07/03/2008 at 11:36:20

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This seems a much more sensible thread than the others discussing our no-show last night.

I agree with the fact that they were a better technical team. Pienaar and Ossie were muscled off the ball easily and they were quick to close down Yakubu and Cahill. Lescott and Hibbert were unable to work down the flanks with the wingers

If it were a 0-0 or a 1-0 to them, I feel it would be possible to beat them at home, playing to our strengths and getting balls down the channels and into the box.

However, that second goal means that however much we harry and chase the ball down, they’ll sit and hit us on the break. We all know how technical the Italians are in defence. But that’s not to say we can’t beat them. An early goal at Goodison and we’re in with a fair shot.

And as for Sunday, I think the boys are professional enough to take an objective look at last night’s shortcomings and move on.

Paul English
14   Posted 07/03/2008 at 11:33:46

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The only explanation i can come up with is the fear factor,you could see it on the players faces,it reminded me when we play the big4 we always crumble under pressure.
Ben Polak
15   Posted 07/03/2008 at 13:06:27

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What a load of rubbish. How are Fiorentina any bigger in Italy than everton are in England? they rank up as about the 5th or 6th biggest side in Italy and unfortunately these days that is exactly where we sit in England. Over the course of history Everton have achieved as much if not more than Fiorentina. True we dont have the aura of man yoo or the shite but neither do Fiorentina. simple as that. i would take your point if we had been playing Juve or Inter but not fiorentina. early goal at goodison and the fans will really get behind us COYB!
Tony Waverleas
16   Posted 07/03/2008 at 14:23:34

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"..out of our depth last night.." (Jimmy Rim, above).

Sorry, Jimmy but I couldn’t disagree more _ we were shocking on the night but I saw nothing in Fiorentina to make me feel they were a class above us. As David Moyes was quick to indicate I also feel all of our wounds last night were self-inflicted.
I do agree we lack quality in certain positions but again as David hinted earlier this week, (in relation to his contract negotiations), the board will have to back him significantly in the transfer market this summer if we are to carry on moving forward.
Honestly, there really is no need to write the obituaries on this season just yet. Keep the faith.
Michael Greaves
17   Posted 07/03/2008 at 17:09:59

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Moyes said before the game in the Echo that this was a great chance for the players to step up. Well it was his chance too. 451 was a clear indication of the manager being intimidated, probably because of Fior’s win over Juve at the weekend. I’m surprised at Moyes. He’s a Scot and one thing about the Jocks is that typically they are not intimidated by much. Shankly and latterly Ferguson would have reduced Fior’ and the whole of Italian football to novice level in the eyes of the players in the dressing room beforehand. The players need to be pumped up prior to these games and be made to feel good about themselves. I see a tendancy for Moyes to give the so called glamour teams too much respect. Kendall never did that. We needed a goal last night to stay in the cup and with 451 you make things difficult for yourself. He should have played AJ and Vaughan to simply run them down at the back. Yak can’t play that way so he could have been rested until next week. In the games I’ve seen this season, we’ve defended well up the pitch in one on ones, thinking about Chelsea away in particular, where AJ and McFadden helped push Chelsea’s fullbacks back. I think Moyes got it wrong last night. Hopefully he’ll continue to learn because domestically he’s doing a great job on the budget he has.
Ajay Timothy
18   Posted 07/03/2008 at 18:16:22

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Maybe they started believing all this crap the their manager said about Everton being one of the best teams in Europe.
Gerry Allen
19   Posted 07/03/2008 at 18:49:30

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Come on lads. it’s not over yet.

From my perspective we got done tactically last night. Fiorentina showed us loads of respect by really doing thier homework on us.

Look at the facts: A first 15 minutes in which they sussed out our formation (we stuck to 4-5-1). Prandelli then allowed full-backs and midfielders to become more offensive and play the game in our half. We didn’t really react and when we did, we made the same change from last Sunday that had been appluaded as a masterstroke - AJ for a full-back and carry the fight to them. Again Prandelli had done his homework and clearly watched the Pompey game at least several times. He made changes that kept the game in our half and isolated the forwards (i.e. letting Phil Neville and Carsely have the ball but quickly closing down Arteta & Pienaar). In the end we esacped with a 2-0 defeat that could have been far worse. We’re still in this tie and have a chance to make history and burn our name across Europe.

The Everton formation and changes last night were exactly as expected and, I think, what most of us would have suggested. Against class like Forentina we needed something a little but different, a little bit surprising: May be we will put this right next week.

I still feel hugely disappointed after last night. But I felt hugely disappointed after Chelsea and we recovered superbly. My only crticism of last night? Moyes needs a wise and proven person as his second. Irvine’s success at Preston is showing his worth. Queiroz at ManU, Asteyeran when he was at Liverpool show the value of someone offering challenge and different ideas when the key moments arrive. Moyes is a very good manager, but even the best can benefit from different opinions and advice.
tony stanley
20   Posted 08/03/2008 at 01:57:42

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i,m a loyal evertonian here in the states, but you have to admit we have played some real alehouse teams to get this far.
everton got a bit carried away reading their own publicity of late, the previous games were more a day out for the fans than a true test of their credentials.
having said that i still believe they can go through as fiorentina are just a good side and no more than that.
Michael Brien
21   Posted 08/03/2008 at 08:48:16

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I agree with most of your comments John - confidence is vitally important in football.I remember back in October 1983 I watched an Everton team totally lacking in confidence lose 1-0 at Goodison to Luton - yet 6 months or so later 10 of that team where at Wembley winning the FA Cup!!
The Uefa Cup has been uncharted territory for us this season - we have been absent from European competition for too long and I think that deep down it does have an effect on team. Personally in our opening game vs Metalist I think we suffered not becuase we played badly - but because we tried too hard. It was as if we were desperate to make up for the disappointments of 2005 in the CL & Uefa Cup.Yes it was a blow when Johnson missed the penalty - but we were 1-0 up - yet we played as if we were 0-1 down.
We have been on a learning curve - I don?t believe all the teams we have played have been naff (e.g. AZ beat the Geordies a couple of years ago) ? and we have got better and better.
If we don?t get through let?s give our guys great credit for what they have acheived. But we are not out of it yet, I still think we can do it. COYB
Mike Noakes
22   Posted 08/03/2008 at 08:59:06

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I have to agree with most of you that this was not the Everton we have seen all season. Fiorentina is undoubtedley a talented side, but there is no way that they are in a different class to us. We were the architects of our own downfall, giving the ball straight back to them on so many occasions, and for the first time the much vaunted team ethic and discipline was nowhere to be seen. When you create no threat in the final third of your opponents half they can throw players forward and in numbers. we were lucky to concede only two, and Howard was our best player.
Obviously we have to be more committed to attack in the second leg;we also have to ensure that our back four play as we know they can.
I also think that we have to play the players in form in their best positions.
Yobo was poor failing to clear his lines and clearly panicking on several occasions. If baines is match fit he is far more comfortable at left back than Lescott. Lescott and jagielka have been a superb pairing in the centre of defence, as good as any in the premiership.
Neville had an atrocious game, unfortunately we have no outstanding right back.
I still think we can win this , but it?s no easy task.
I would drop Yobo; move Neville to right back; Baines at left back (he also seems to bring out thest in Pienaar); and put Lescott back to central defence.
This is only one change of personnel from the side which finished the match in Florence.
We are not yet world class we have no one of the likes of Ronaldo, Torres or Drogba, and we are weak at right back, and lack a world class player to operate in front of the back four (taking nothing away from Carsley?s performances this season).
We are, however, at least as good as Florrie. So COYB play to your strengths and enjoy.
Don?t lose sight of the fact that we have a tough game on Sunday.
Go for it guys, you have the best supporters in the country, the best manager and all to play for.
Brian Hatton
23   Posted 08/03/2008 at 10:29:32

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Michael G. Sorry to be the bringer of bad tidings, but Vaughan is out for the rest of the season, at least, with another injury to his dodgy knee. He will be going under the knife in Colorado shortly.
Sam Jones
24   Posted 08/03/2008 at 13:38:40

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Put it this way: Fiorentina are good, but we can be better, they will literally shit themselves when hear the Goodison roar as soon as Z-Cars comes on. To make this a memorable European night at Goodison, we need all four stands of this fantastic old stadium to be at full volume. Remember the noise inside Goodison against Bayern that night in April 1985, we need that again, the players are counting on us to deliver too. COYB.
Ian Burger
25   Posted 08/03/2008 at 14:23:23

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Simply put, Playing Long Ball cost us the game.

The reason we played long ball?

1. Carsley and Neville are not comfortable on the ball and therefore should NEVER partner in central midfield.
2. Lack of movement in midfield meant the Defence had little choice but to punt it down the field.
3. Long balls to just one striker who isnt a targetman. He didnt stand a chance! We all know what Yaks game is about and it aint that.

Finally, why hasnt anyone picked up on how we always give the ball away with throw ins? Long ball throws ins every time! Dont see Man Utd or Arsenal doing that all game. Its about keeping posession
Si Ord
26   Posted 08/03/2008 at 16:31:10

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I haven?t read everything in this thread, but I was there, as I have been for every European match this season, and even at half-time I was saying we were showing them too much respect. We constantly gave them too much space, very unlike the Everton of the last few years. But Mike what are you talking about: drop yobo? ? he is our most consistent performer week-in, week-out.

On the evidence of this match, Lescott had probably his worst game in an Everton shirt but what do you think you are gaining by playing Baines? Defensively this season he has been weak; I remember Oldham particularly, and going forward Lescott is an asset at left back, he has linked up particularly well with Pienaar all season.

Our best back four at the moment is without question Neville, Yobo, Jagielka and Lescott... with Carsley, who has consistently been our best midfielder all season ? he always stands up to be counted. With these five and Howard we have a chance of not conceding the away goal that will put us out of the tie; we will not score 4 against Fiorentina!

And yes, we must play 4-4-2 with Yakubu and Johnson, although if he was fit i would play Vaughan, as he has the same workrate, but offers a bit more, in that he?s better in the air and holds the ball up better than AJ.

The probem is midfied as it has been for the last few years... If Arteta and Piennar are injured, we?re woefully short of cover. Osman must play in the centre ? his best games have been there this season not out wide. However, what we do need is that the lethargic Evertonians to get behind the team. Some matches have been like a fuckin? morgue recently. Let?s not forget that this match aside (and that?s probably why it?s been such a disappointment), you can be proud of your team again. It's been an awesome season. Let?s not finish it with a whimper!... on and off the field!

James Martin
27   Posted 08/03/2008 at 19:29:37

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Not sure I agree with Jimmy Rim’s Comments. Sure, their passing and control are a gear or two up from ours. But so are Arsenal’s, Manure’s, Chelsea’s and probably Man city’s if you push me. we wasted City the other day, and we’ve ruffled the feather’s of the big 3 this season and taken points off all of them in recent years. The top 3 in the prem (on form) would walk all over Fiorentina. So, no I don’t think Fiorentina are a superior team. We had a bad day at the office and yes you do get punished at this level if you’re not on the top of your game. Roma beat Real Madrid in both legs, but they’re not a better team than Madrid.
I honestly think we’ll turn this round COYB.
Brian Hatton
28   Posted 08/03/2008 at 20:20:29

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If, Barnsley can beat not just the RS but Chelsea as well.
If, Pompey can beat Manure; less than a week after we despatched them at Goodison, then we can turn this around.
Fiorentina are not in the same league as Manure & Chelsea, we just made them look that way with our over cautious, rabbit caught in the headlights outlook.
The players need to believe in themselves.
Fiorentina are a good side but they are not outstanding. We do not know how they will respond to pressure, as we did not put them under any in Florence.
An early goal, the Goodison roar & who knows.
Give the team everything on wednesday & believe!

Clive Lewis
29   Posted 08/03/2008 at 21:39:22

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I am under the impression from the display that maybe the players were not that bothered about this game. Could this be a similar situation to Barnsley? is Moyes actually that bothered about the Uefa Cup anymore? It is interesting that the fans chose in a recent poll that they would rather win the Uefa Cup than qualify for the Champions League. I wonder, if you asked Moyes or Kenwright the same question, whether they would reply with the same answer. Maybe this is a bit wide of the mark, but could Moyes actually be thinking that the squad is now not good enough in depth to win the Uefa Cup and qualify for the Champions League, considering Fernandes and Gravesen and probably Arteta being probably unusable in any positive way to achieving both of these due to injury or interest. I am thinking that Moyes believes it is enough just to be seeded for the Champions League which (so I heard) has been achieved already, and anything else is a bonus, but it is not that important in terms of financial gain. This is just a thought... would be good to hear your views on this.
Jay Harris
30   Posted 08/03/2008 at 23:39:28

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Clive I agree with you to a certain extent but from a different perspective.
I think the squad are carrying more injuries/sickness than we have been told.
We brought Fernandes in to help the squad but he has been unfit/injured as has Gravesen.
From all accounts Osman And Baines have serious knocks and have been unable to train properly even playing with painkilling injections if we believe all the papers say.
Pienaar has been out with an ankle injury since Afcon and has played 3 games in 10 days.
Arteta is carrying some mystery groin strain.
Lee Carsley is not getting any younger and may be tiring.
P Neville I am afraid to say is just not up to playing regularly in a top side in any position.
In short I think we are running low on gas like the last time we finshed 4th but just about made it over the finshing line.

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