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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Liverpool (A)

By Ken Buckley :  31/03/2008 :  Comments (11) :
No points and another woeful out-of-form display from the Blues.

In a game where we could have lost 5-0 it was just a solitary goal that divided us at the end and the irony was that we gave it to them. Our first half, from an attacking perspective, could be summed up in one sentence. First minute strike by Arteta comfortably held by Reina. The rest of the half was about them attacking, Babel and Kuyt mised sitters, Gerrard hit a post.

But wouldn't you just know it while they couldn't score we did it for them. We had cleared a Gerrard corner only for Yak to dawdle on the ball and have it nicked off him and with our defence streaming out Kuyt found Torres in acres and the ball nestled in the net.

We really did look like a team out of form with Pienaar and Neville suffering most. H/T and I wasn't alone in expecting changes but the same eleven took to the field and,just like the first half, we created just one chance, Osman headed wide from an Arteta free kick. Liverpool continued to attack Kuyt put a volley wide, Gerrard brought a fine save from Howard and on the final whistle it has to be said Liverpool were comfortable throughout. That sticks in the throat.

So the post match pint and inquest: What is going wrong?

My thought is that our lack of quality depth has caught up with us, especially in midfield. To have three out of four strikers unavailable is unusual and unlucky but these things happen also not having cover for the Cahill role is proving crucial with strikers out. Comparing the two benches today spoke volumes.

When the manager made his changes taking off Pienaar and Neville and replacing with Manny and Baines there was a visible lift given to the team in terms of mental energy and in Manny's case someone who could get around and actually pick a pass, I thought it was Manny's best display to date.

A quick look at the squads printed in the proey shows us having around thirty players but the reallity is we have only about seventeen that could be called the first team squad and, with injuries and illness biting, I feel it leaves us short for the business end of this season; no scope for freshening up, especially in the positions where players have lost form.

I don't think it is physical tiredness as today all the players put in a lot of energy but without any semblence of touch, nous or pass and move.

I thought the manager did well today in moving around what he had to try and get some fluency and with the back five performing pretty well it was from midfield forward that lacked the mental sharpness that was well illustrated in there being only TWO attempts on goal all match. Feed the Yak and he will score we sing but today they put him on starvation rations.

They say form is temporary, well I hope ours picks up over the coming six games,as well as better news on the striker front.

Can we hold on to fifth slot? Who knows,but with the way football is so unpredictable a position from fourth to seventh could be achieved.

It's never nice losing but losing to them is that bit harder but if it galvanises the board to look at serious money and the manager to be able to identify and get the quality needed to go a whole season competing well on all fronts then the next step will be that bit nearer and I will have greater confidence that we are a club on the up and up.

Derby next in what is a must win game and to that end will the true Everton please turn up. UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Mark Hill
1   Posted 31/03/2008 at 14:53:39

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I have to say I was disappointed in the display put forward by Everton yesterday. We were solid enough, but they just played around us. I thought we just looked tired. They seemed to have half a yard more in them than we did. I was totally deflated yesterday. We could have played till Christmas and we wouldn?t have scored. A real shame and a real kick in the teeth for us, and I totally agree we HAVE to win against Derby or Pompey will be down our throats. Has anyone else noted they (Pompey) have a much easier run in. Depending our form it could either prove to be a sticky run in or really exciting!!!
Chris Watson
2   Posted 31/03/2008 at 15:03:10

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Whilst agreeing that we were ’not good’ yesterday I truly believe (perhaps blindly) that IFwe had any options off the bench ie AJ, Anichebe, we would have stretched them and I would have backed us to nick an equaliser.
Liverpool are, in my opinion, 2 players perhaps 3. Torres, Gerrard and masc mask mach mash...the Argentine one and without 2 of the 3 they would struggle, not disimiliar to us being without Cahill and AJ....enough said, but ery very disappointing....BLACK MONDAY!!!
Roy Leatham
3   Posted 31/03/2008 at 15:28:17

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Extremely disappointing - we didn?t turn up at all. I also think that you are being kind to the Yak. I thought he was awful ? back to being the lazy lump he was when he first arrived. Apart from costing us the match, he couldn?t hold the ball up, created nothing, won absolutely nothing in the air and was reluctant to chase anything. However, he wasn?t alone in his performance with only Arteta, Howard, Yobo and Manny deserving to pick up their wages. Lescott has now had two bad games in a row and Jags has also slipped from the high standards he has set. Hibbert constantly had his man ahead of him and was playing catch-up.

It hurts, but we were beaten by a better side on the day ? as you say it could have been 5-0. We were lucky to get nil. It was almost as bad as Fiorentina away, but not quite as we improved in the second half and we didn?t in Florence.

It?s time for changes if we don?t want the indignity of being Derby?s second scalp of the season. Put Lescott back in the middle, give Jags a rest and bring Baines in at left back. Give Manny a run as Pienaar now looks doubtful and hope AJ is fit.

I know we?re struggling on squad numbers and that needs to be addressed in the summer. If we don?t sort it soon, we could even lose fifth and be looking at the Intertoto at best.
Stuart Duncan
4   Posted 31/03/2008 at 15:56:04

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Agree with your analysis Ken. I cant understand why (since this is not the first game we have put mostly defenders on the bench) with 3 strikers plus Cahill out, don’t we pull one of the loan players back. They may be inexperienced, but surely throwing on Jutkiewicz or Spencer rather than Jags up front would make more sense?
Joe McMahon
5   Posted 31/03/2008 at 17:12:59

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Roy Leatham - be easy on Yakubu, he has scored us 19 goals. Duncan Ferguson was a legend (apperaently) he he scored nothing like that amount.

Christ- we would be no where near 7th even if it wasn’t for him. He needs the ball playing to him by quality midfield passes - that’s the heart of the problem.
Peter Kennedy
6   Posted 31/03/2008 at 17:48:09

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Nice to read a sensible summary of a piss poor performance - quite simply not enough quality in the squad to compete at the top level should injuries/suspensions kick in. We were well beaten and thank god, they missed so many chances, it could have been 4-0 at half time. At 1-0 you live in hope, but realistically it was never gonna be......

I was in the Main Stand at Anfield, suitably clad in blue (my cousin is a red and got me the loan of his mates season ticket who was working, so we sat together) - I’m not into this anti-Liverpool shite - I’m a proud Evertonian and LOVE to beat them, but I’ve got mates & family from the dark side - I was however really disappointed with some of our own fans - I expect us to support OUR team not constantly spout shite & bile against their players and before any dickhead has a go at me, me & my lad go home & away every week - including European games, we went to Florence and shook our heads at hearing songs about Gerrard’s daughter and Michael Shields, whilst we were there - FFS support the boys in blue - we demean ourselves by behaving in this way.

Isn’t our song about not caring what the Red Shite say - I get pissed off by hearing their fans calling us the bitters- we are bigger & better than that

Anyway - 3 points beckon on Sunday, if we can’t beat Derby we want shooting!
Roy Leatham
7   Posted 31/03/2008 at 18:13:55

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Joe McMahon - Yakubu has been immense for us, absolutely no doubt and I too dread to think where we would be without him. However earlier performances do not excuse him, or anyone else for that matter, from criticism. He didn’t perform.
Steve Harris
8   Posted 31/03/2008 at 17:58:40

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The main difference between us and the so called top teams is our lack of movement.There is nobody running off the ball and trying to find space which leaves even skillfull players like Arteta looking poor because of the lack of options.Why do we constantly pump high balls from the back to lone strikers playing against 6ft+ defenders when time and again the ball inevitably comes straight back? I believe its because of the lack of alternative options which must be down to the management and coaching staff
Chris Jones
9   Posted 31/03/2008 at 18:38:53

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We?ve been pretty poor since Fiorentina haven?t we? I AJ, Vaughan and Cahill give us the movement we were so desperate for on Sunday. Yak, Arteta and Pienaar are all decent players but none of them has great movement - they all like it to feet,

On a brighter note - I?ve just been looking at the fixtures again. All things being equal we could be 2 or maybe 3 points behind the RS come Sunday. I also firmly believe we can get a minimum of 11 points from our final six games. 68 points is normally more than enough for 4th place - so it won?t be want of trying:

Derby home - 3 points
Birmingham away - 3 points
Chelsea home - 1 point
Villa home 1 point
Arsenal away 0 point
Newcastle home 3 points

Told you it was easy!
Conor Waters
10   Posted 31/03/2008 at 22:06:05

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I had the unfortunate discomfort of spending Sunday afternoon stuck slap bang behind enemy lines, Kop end. What hurts the most about that defeat was the apparent apathy from the Blues. It was a similar situation 2 years ago, when challenging for 4th place we went to Anfield and submitted again. At least we got a goal that day. IS IT JUST ME, OR DOES EVERY SINGLE LOOSE BALL END UP IN OUR OPPONENTS POSSESSION?? That can't just be coincidence. It is simply down to lack of effort. I know our squad is depleted and even a few of the starting XI on Sunday clearly weren?t fully fit (Pienaar), but we have to start fighting harder.

Some other observations from the derby; Arteta - fantastic player, but abysmal success rate on his set pieces, nearly all his corners and free-kicks were cleared by the first man. Neville - great team player and hard working, but simply inexcusably bad distribution, and thats in every game. Hibbert - Goes to sleep far to often, invited Babel to run at him time and time again, when he should have laid in a reducer early doors! (pardon the ron speak).

I just hope we can salvage something from was looking like a great season...
mark-chester
11   Posted 01/04/2008 at 10:27:42

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The way we are playing i cannot see us getting 11 points, i think it is more like 8 and i have looked at portsmouth’s fixtures and to be honest with defoe banging them in, i can see them getting 12 points at least which would put us level on points and it would only take pompey to thrash someone to get them near us on GD, so to be honest i think we need to concentrate on getting 5th.

With regards to our recent performances, it is clear that injuries are really playing there part now and as many of us (including myself a number of times) pointed out at the start of the season, our squad is not big enough and does not contain enough quality to get 4th and it could well be the difference in us gettign a uefa cup spot.

I really hope Moyes has his eyes on some big players in the summer and more than that, BK will back him.

I have hummed and harred about certain players this season but enough is enough now, HIbbert, Neville, Carsley Must go!!!! They are not good enough for anymore, not if we want to keep up with the likes of Tott, Portsmouth, Villa and maybe even Newcastle and Man City next season.

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