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Just a month away...

By Jack  Kemp :  18/03/2009 :  Comments (15) :
The FA Cup semi-final is a month away but the excitement is already reaching uncontrollable levels in my house and I believe this is an experience mirrored by other Evertonians.

Last year my father, brother and I attended both legs of the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Now I know the two ties are very different as the League Cup is contested over two legs, however I just hope we have learnt from that experience. I remember when Wright-Phillips scored that late header and I overheard an Evertonian say, ?that goal has knocked us out?. In a game where we were poor for the first 45 minutes, we almost nicked a win (remember the McFadden chance when he should have pulled it back to Cahill).

At Stamford Bridge we were bereft of several players, I seem to remember Phil Neville playing right midfield, and in the current situation we go into arguably our biggest game of the season without key players.

However, this semi-final is played over 90 minutes... possibly 120 ? but not 180. Moyes has worked miracles with the players in grinding out crucial victories and I believe Everton can beat Man United on the 19th April. Of course United go in as overwhelming favourites but that suits me down to the ground: no pressure, no expectation, great hallmarks of an underdog.

Now I might be shot down with what I?m about to say but, as Liverpool and Inter Milan showed, this United team does have weaknesses although the media would like us to think they haven?t. The defence, impregnable for much of the season, now looks shaky (Evra in particular) and all the talk about the quintuple must eventually get to the players... Fergie has publicly said that the Champions League is the one he wants. Is there a chance that he may rest a couple of the superstars if United are entangled in a Champions League quarter-final showdown?

Over the past few years we have really contested our matches with United:

  • Season 08-09 Everton 1-1 United; United 1-0 Everton (debateable penalty)
  • Season 07-08 Everton 0-1 United (late goal by Vidic); United 2-1 Everton (debateable penalty)
  • Season 06-07 Everton 2-4 United; United 3-0 Everton
  • All but the 3-0 defeat have been close games. This year, the game at Goodison provided us with what I believe was our turning point. There was a spell in the second half when United looked shaky and not particularly up for a battle, something we have to do on the 19 April. If we battle, compete and win our tackles then we can rattle them.

    Too many teams roll over against United, something I can quite safely say we will not do led by our captain. I?m quietly confident that the United back four will not relish coming up against Saha, Cahill and Fellaini. In those three players we have real potential to cause United problems. Including Lescott in the equation, then if our set pieces are on the money maybe this will be our best avenue for scoring goals. I just hope Everton can do themselves proud on the 19 April and not come off the pitch thinking what if? If United perform like they did in the League Cup Final then we can win this match!

    I realise United are the best at bouncing back from poor performances but le'ts just remember we are Everton and our team spirit is unmatched by any club. COYB

    Reader Comments

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    Tim Wardrop
    1   Posted 19/03/2009 at 17:23:16

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    Nice, optimistic post there Jack. But one thing I have to argue with is that there is no way on god’s earth that the penalty Utd got at OT last season was debateable - Pienaar made one of the worst challenges I’ve ever seen on Giggs! Stonewall mate.

    It is a fair point you make though. Utd will undoubtedly rotate their squad, but the question is: does that actually make them weaker? Is Tevez worse than Berbatov? Is Park worse than Giggs? Is Fletcher worse than Scholes? Personally I think we have to hope we meet them on an off day and play out of our skins to win.

    Anyway, like you say in your title, it’s a month away. Let’s think about Pompey tomorrow eh?
    Brett Bradshaw
    2   Posted 19/03/2009 at 17:30:33

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    Keep it tight for 90 mins and hope to get one in the last 10 or 15 mins when our fitness and spirit comes into light.

    Again tho, Pompey tomorrow!
    Brian Waring
    3   Posted 19/03/2009 at 18:10:22

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    I know Man Utd showed they are beatable against the shite and Inter. The difference for me was that in Torres, the shite have probalby the best striker in the world, and he led Vidic a merry dance, backed up by Gerrard. We don?t have that type of quality.

    Inter also, look through that Inter team that played that night, it oozed pace, skill and Ibrahimovich (I think that?s how you spell it) on another day with luck on their side they would have repeated what the shite had done.

    In our games in the past against the Mancs, the scores may have been close, but most of the time it was too easy for them. The only time we had a right go was the 2nd half in the 1-1 draw; even then though, they had enough chances in the 1st half to have been out of sight. Also, before anyone starts wading in with the usual crap, I?m not being negative, just realistic.

    If we do get in their faces, and with a bit of luck, we can beat them, but let?s not take away the fact that this is going to be a big ask for the lads.

    By the way, I got great odds on 2-1 for us with Fellaini bagging the winner, hypocrite hey?
    Kevin Tully
    4   Posted 19/03/2009 at 18:46:02

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    United will be coming up against us on the back of their second leg in the CL quarter-finals (hopefully an away leg in Europe).

    It will be extremely difficult for them to motivate themselves four days later, even though we are at Wembley. Yes, we will need to play to our full potential, but we will be fit, fresh and highly motivated. A recipe for success!
    Neil McKinney
    5   Posted 19/03/2009 at 19:04:18

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    Do we not play Portsmouth on Saturday? I know I?m off work this week, but have I slept through a whole day or are you guys in Oz?

    One-off game against the Manure and we have to believe we can win it. Any which way will do.
    Andy Herbert
    6   Posted 19/03/2009 at 19:20:42

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    I don?t think you guys are giving our boys enough credit. Yes we have to be at the top of our games, and yes it?s going to be a big ask but the way I see it on current form we are on top of our game, ahead of Manure, Arsenal and on par with Chelsea.

    We have found options up front with Fellaini, Cahill, Jo and Saha all scoring well, we are competing well in midfield, our defence on current form is the best in the league and confidence is sky high. We must respect our opponents and keep our feet firmly on the ground but we should also go into every game in the knowledge that teams will be fearing what we can do to then.

    I think we have only lost once in 18. Do you think the Mancs really would have chosen to draw us. My bet is none of the other three sides would have relished drawing us and I can feel something special is going to happen. Here?s hoping and praying FA Cup finalist, maybe even winners and Champions League qualification. Doesn?t get better than that for me, lads.
    Martin Cutler
    7   Posted 19/03/2009 at 22:16:32

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    I believe we can beat Utd. That?s all there is to it right now.... the next game vs Portsmouth is the most important as is Wigan and even more so Villa before the Utd game.

    The only downside is that The Mrs supports Utd so I?m praying for an Everton win just to shut her up! LOL!
    Denis Richardson
    8   Posted 19/03/2009 at 23:30:18

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    Manure game, as said, is a one-off, hope for the best on the day, which is ages away.

    Let's concentrate on the league first ? Villa are slipping up and Arsenal are not consistent. CL place is now only 4 points away.

    Villa have the Shite and Manure away next so a couple of good results against Pompey and Wigan we should be 5th and within touching distance of the Arse.

    Would be fantastic if we get to the Manure game with CL qualification in sight. Not sure if I?d take CL qualification over winning the FA Cup ? close one for me with no cash to spend etc but then again no trophy for 14 years! COYB...
    Brian Garside
    9   Posted 20/03/2009 at 01:58:49

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    Brian Waring. Ibrahimavic is most commonly known as Zlatan. Easier to spell too.

    As far as the semi is concerned. I would have fancied our chances more if the tie was played at a Prem. ground. The "wide open spaces" of Wembley will suit their style of play better. But what the hell. We are there and will find a way.

    But it is a month away so can we put this topic to bed for a while and concentrate on upcomming matches instead? It is these matches that will shape the run in. Not a one-off game.
    Beth Louise Carter
    10   Posted 20/03/2009 at 10:47:01

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    As formidable as United are, no side has the right to win games. Football is after all, 11 men against 11, that on the day anything can happen. Derby demonstrated pefectly earlier this year that heart and desire can win the day, and Manchester, whilst certainly no pushovers are far from unbeatable,and if we play to our abilities and show no repeat of the second half against Stoke last weekend, it could go our way.

    To be candid, I have no idea what will happen, as I’m sure many of you out there will know full well, of course we will start as underdogs, but was that not the case in 1995?
    Iain Love
    11   Posted 20/03/2009 at 10:35:12

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    It?s what the FA Cup is all about, David vs Goliath etc etc; of course we can beat them, of course it won;t be easy, but at least we are there.

    Manure will expect to beat us and will come flying out of the box trying to get the job over and done with early. When that happens we MUST retain the ball and not HOOF it. If we do, we will lose. Cahill to rattle Carrick, Screech to rattle Vidic, Pip to Tackle the diver a la last time... they are the key battles: win those and we will win.

    Chris Brigden
    12   Posted 20/03/2009 at 15:02:20

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    We can?t let the semi-final distract us. I believe picking up as many points as possible in the league is equally important. We still have a tricky derby game at Anfield to concentrate on.

    [Ed note: Uh?... What the fuck??? Didn't we.... err.. I'm sure we did. Yer a wee bit mental, Chris. No wonder I have youse on intervention at the minute. ]

    Roger Osborne
    13   Posted 20/03/2009 at 18:42:11

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    My first two loves, Scotland and Everton (with apologies to the wife) have certainly had their moments at Wembley in years past, and hopefully next month will be no different.

    I was in tears when Whiteside scored in extra time when the treble dream was over, just three days after the Rotterdam final. I know we did get revenge a decade later and that was sweet, but that balmy afternoon back in ’85 still rankles.
    Perry Umbown
    14   Posted 20/03/2009 at 21:49:24

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    Looking forward to this one already ? I know we should take it one game at a time an all that but as Paul McCartney once said...

    I got a feelin... a feelin I can't hide, Oh Yeah!
    Lorcan Walsh
    15   Posted 20/03/2009 at 23:32:04

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    It?s an age away but let?s hope we go after the win ? in the manner of Royle?s Dogs of War in ?95 when the media were already fantasising about Klinsies dream final...

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