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The Mail Bag

Fitness and commitment, the Everton way!

Comments (20)

Well tonight was bloody brilliant! Anichebe continues to make a huge impression from the bench in Europe. We are sitting on top of Group A, with maximum points!

Not pretty at times tonight, but it was what I would consider a solid professional performance away from home in European competition (Light years ahead of the panicky crap that was played against Kharkiv in either leg!). We were rarely troubled (bar Lescott's error) and had quite a lot of dangerous attacks, without leaving ourselves open to counter attack.

I think we showed endevour and the will to win, but also an intelligence in our defence, covering for those attacking and chasing back when beaten on the ball. Something definitely missing during our more naive recent European ties. Also when we do get the ball down and pass we have the skill to play some nice football. As this continues I hope to see less of the hoofball.

This season, I have been very impressed throughout our European campaign at our fitness levels. I feel that it has been very important to our progress thus far. It is also starting to show in the league and domestic cups as we are scoring many goals at the end of games.

David Moyes should be given credit for the level of fitness and commitment he demands from the team. It is this desire that has helped us to our 5th win in a row. The criticism he recieved about trying to change the work ethic of Yakubu were strange. Moyes always asks commitment of his players, and why shouldn't he? Especially one that cost £11million (not to mention the wages!)

The return of Tim Cahill, a player that literally oozes passion and competitive edge has greatly highlighted how much this part of the game matters, especially against the, what I would consider, lesser opposition that we have faced recently. With his return we have seen balance to the team, and it is no co-incidence that players like Pienaar and Yakubu have begun to settle in better. Indeed, as Yakubu is finding his feet his work ethic, hold up play and general attitude are all improving.

I feel the challenge of Chelsea at the weekend is a different kettle of fish. However, Moyes can draw on some of the same strategies that were implemented tonight. If the same intelligence is used in how we plan our attacking play we could give them a good game. With fitness and desire a key after both teams playing in europe, I hope that our balance and new found confidence will help us raise our game once again.

Come on you blues! Let s keep this great run up!
Gareth  Cooper, Sheffield     Posted 08/11/2007 at 23:37:02

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Damian Waite
1   Posted 09/11/2007 at 01:14:40

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I must echo the sentiment of Gareths article, fine performance and great individual efforts from anichebe, arteta and particularly valente who has been sidelined somewhat but in the last two cup games has shown commitment and professionalism.
Pienaar is a fine acquisition and Cahill has proven once again to be the real heartbeat of the side.
It is grand to see such a confidence in the side. I only hope Lescott (who I admire) can cut out the silly errors that blighted Yobo’s second and third seasons at the club.
A top six finish, run in the cups! & most importantly a stylish pattern/system of play are all achievable for this side, I pray my hopes are fulfilled.
Martin Cooil
2   Posted 09/11/2007 at 01:28:57

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Looks like we are finally puting a decent run of games together and an element of decent football to boot.

Thought Yakubu was excellent tonight. Not enough can be said about his ability to run those defenders into the gorund over 70-75 minutes. He ran like we have not seen before and I hope many will have been pleasently surprised by his recent trasformation in style (transformation may be too strong a word!!!!).

A few good games doesnt make an everton legend, but a bit of effort goes a long way with the goodison faithful. Fair play Yak.

When Big vic came on I thought he was fantastic and made the most of the tired legs gained through Yaks earlier efforts.

There were a couple of uneasy moments, but on the whole a solid performance that deserved a win. Not sure what was wrong with Aretas dead ball deliverieis. He looked tidy down the flanks and was fabtstic as usual at drawing tackles for the dead ball situations, but other than the pen he did little else with those set play opportunities. WILL FORGIVE HIM THOUGH. "Best little spaniard we know"

We should be proud of the boys tonight and I have a funny feeling about a 1-0 win at the weekend. We fear no one!!!!!!!

Robbed by the RS!!!!! We can play this game you know!!!!!
Phil Jones
3   Posted 09/11/2007 at 02:29:48

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It says something of the teams fitness and dedication when Nuno Valente comes on after not having played for ages and plays the whole 90 and looked like he’d played the position in the frist team all year. Great win.
David Moore
4   Posted 09/11/2007 at 03:18:43

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Too true Phil,
I thought Valente had a great game tonight. It would have been great if we scored straight away but who cares? 2-0 and into knockout stages basically...
Dominic Duerden
5   Posted 09/11/2007 at 07:56:09

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thought Yakubu was ok tonight but what a difference when Victor came on.

He night not cost £11 million but what a player !!!! The German defence just could not cope with him.....incredible.
Mike Southworth
6   Posted 09/11/2007 at 08:26:03

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I tend to agree with Martin’s sentiments. Yakubu should take some credit for the goals. He ran the centre backs ragged and Victor reaped the rewards against some tired legs. That’s not to say that he wasn’t superb himself. The second goal was very well taken and thoroughly deserved.
patty
7   Posted 09/11/2007 at 08:52:15

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Thought our defence was a bit weak at times tonight but never mind, eh, we got the right result. Think Stubbs’ experience might have made a difference. Pity about Timmy’s effort in the first few minutes - feel if he had scored then we would have blizted them but 2 - 0 does for me. I am a happy bunny this morning.
Henry Bird
8   Posted 09/11/2007 at 09:21:16

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Spot on,patti.At times,Howard was tearing his hair-or what’s left of it-out at the casual antics of our defence.Perform like that against Chelsea and we’ll be 3-0 down at half-time.The biggest offender was Lescott who since his elevation to England status has shown a tendancy to switch off -just as Yobo used to do at times.
I have no doubt that Moyes will be stressing the need to concentrate at all times-and don’t be surprised if he re-inforces that message by bringing in Stubbs for Joleon at the weekend!Paenaar is another one who needs reminding ’to get rid’on when on the edge of our box.
Anto Doran
9   Posted 09/11/2007 at 09:55:08

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Howard was brilliant, he remained solid when our defence make some errors, thought Areta was poor on crossing we need to let others take some free kicks and corners, I actually had a bad feeling when he came up to take the peno thankfully he buried it, Yakubu was average, ok holdin the ball up but AJ would has givin a hell of a lot more had he being playing as a lone striker and as for Vic A...AWESOME he won us the game!
Dave Edwards
10   Posted 09/11/2007 at 10:05:24

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A great performance by the lads! Lots of positives - A more creative midfield; livelier everywhere (Cahill’s the catalyst); the Yak working his socks off on his own up front and tiring out the defence (AJ-style); Vic’s superb impact off the bench;, Howard’s quality behind the defence; Neville looking much better at Right Back; Valente solid, given his lack of recent games, etc. I’d have accepted an away draw last night, but the eventual win was welcomed and deserved. Nurnberg were a better team than their league position suggests and we were able to keep them in check most of the time.

However, there are areas for improvement and better teams (Chelsea this Sunday, no doubt) might well highlight them. Lescott’s consistency has to improve (I’m worried these errors are becoming a regular occurence); Arteta’s dead-ball delivery is actually very poor at present (although he got the one that really counted right!); I still thought we didn’t penetrate into the box from midfield too much last night, despite some good midfield control/inter-play just over the half-way line. Piennar and Osman still look slightly lightweight at times, and even Tim faded in and out of the game at times (although as he’s still recovering from his long-term injury, this is a very minor observation). The Yak needed to come deeper to get the ball more times than he ought to have needed to (AJ, bless him, needed to earlier in the season as well), so I still think we were playing slightly deeper than we needed to.

But heck, it’s only because want perfection from our team! With just those minor areas for improvement, the future is definitely looking brighter, and with the team spirit at close to an all-time high for Moyes, that half-empty glass is starting to look half-full at last!

One last comment from someone who couldn’t make it over there. Our fans were superb! There in numbers, very vocal and if the reports are right, no trouble either. Shame on UEFA for labelling this one a high risk game. Proud to be a blue with you lot representing the grand old club so well!
COYBs!
Terry Knowles
11   Posted 09/11/2007 at 10:25:35

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Anto Doran - disagree with your comment that Yakubu was average and AJ would have given a lot more. Last night Yakubu held the ball up with his back to goal much better than AJ would have done. Yakubu will become the first choice striker ahead of AJ as he actually scores goals.
Anto Doran
12   Posted 09/11/2007 at 10:46:36

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I think AJ is much better suited than the Yak to the formation Moyes used last night and the fact Vic A came on for the yak and completely turned the game in our favour is somethng the Yak never looked like doing, yes ok, it was a tactic Moyes used and has used before before to great effect bringing on Vic A as an impact sub but we cant rely on an 15 minute player when our first team 11 million player aint really making the goal contribution, i do agree that the Yak may provide more goals than AJ but AJ is has proven better work rate and is beter at holding up the ball and chasing lost causes
Paul McMullan
13   Posted 09/11/2007 at 10:59:10

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Anto

It wolud be criminal to over look Yak’s contribution last night. He softened the defence up to let Victor deliver the knock-out. He seems to have improved his first touch and his control in tight situations which will enable him to play that role even better.

I don’t think AJ could have played any better in that role. Sure, he might have chased down ’lost causes’ but surely we are a good enough team now that we shouldn’t have to run after every single ball that is mis-placed. Thats how players end up out of position and a team loses it shape.

With the options we have up front this year I am sure Moyes will mix things up this year and if we are winning I don’t care who plays up front.
Mark Perry
14   Posted 09/11/2007 at 11:10:08

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One of thev reasons that Victor was able to score was the tireless work Yak had put in over 70 minutes to tire out and streach the opponents defence. Yak chased, harried and ran their defence ragged and when Vic came on he made them pay with strong runs and a classy finish. Great combo. AJ presents a different problem his pace is scarry for defences and would of posed equaly difficalt questions. Well played the Yak and everyone else, some of the passing a movement was a jot to watch, bring on Chelski - I have a good feeling about Sunday!
Anto Doran
15   Posted 09/11/2007 at 11:43:26

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hardly criminal Paul, did the Yak have any note worthy shots on target during the whole game?? not exactly the return from a 11 million striker against lets face it weak opposition, noting wrong with the rest of his game he is coming along fine with the work ethic but the difference in terms of what is required from a striker was illustrated perfectly when comparing the Yak to Vic A. I except that they Yak’s role may have being to tire/bore the opposition for 70 minutes and let Vic A take the Glory but really why dont we go for the throat right from the off and bag 5 goals instead to late goals!
Dominic Duerden
16   Posted 09/11/2007 at 12:21:59

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Anto

I agree with you mate . Yak is ok but you expect more for 11 million.

Mark I didn?t see Yak run anyone ragged , I did see Victor do it though , within about two minutes of being on the pitch.
Anto doran
17   Posted 09/11/2007 at 12:34:05

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Exactly mate, if the game plan is to use the Yak as a holding striker for on rushing midielders why waste 11 million on him when we already have a player who has being playing that role in Johnson? on the flip side if Vic A had being playing from the start and the Yak came on as sub I would question whether his impact would have being as significant as Vic A’s contribution!
Chris Whitby
18   Posted 09/11/2007 at 12:32:27

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Anto and Dominic

It is naive to believe that Vic(who was brilliant) would have had the same impact starting.The Yak worked their defence brilliantly so that when Vic came on they were tiring and could not deal with another strong quick striker.

Keep it up boys and Manchester might not be a fantasy!
Mick Geoffroy
19   Posted 09/11/2007 at 14:04:02

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One point on carsley last night did anyone else notice it was him missing to pick up the nurnberg players ghosting into the box which led to there 2 best chances to score, is he showing his age?....and furthermore what would we do if we didn?t have him cause jagielka doesn?t look like he is good enough to fill his boots yet and neville..well nuff said.

Paul McMullan
20   Posted 09/11/2007 at 13:43:26

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I don’t think the gameplan is to use Yak solely to tire defenders out otherewise we would have bought an Olympic sprinter to run around up front.

The reason we bought Yak is too score goals and finish chances, which is his biggest strength. Unlike Victor he is not brilliant at fashioning chances for himself. The reason why he didn’t get a meaningful shot in is because we didn’t create any clear-cut chances for him. If the truth be told we only really started to believe we could win the game halfway through the second half.

I am not knocking Victor in any way. I am just excited as the the rest of you about his potential but don’t expect him to do this every time he comes on the field. After last night he won’t be an unknown quantity anymore.

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