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Eyeless in Gaza, at the Mill, with slaves

By Kevin  Gillen :  22/09/2008 :  Comments (11) :

Having lived or worked in Hull for 20 of the last 25 years, it really takes a massive effort of cognition to accept that Everton are actually playing Hull City in the Premier League.

Previously I have always shown a measured degree of respect for their plight in the football league commiserating with their many fans after years of near misses, broken promises, near bankruptcies and even a traumatic ground move. The lights at Boothferry Park used to shine into my old bedroom window, my next door neighbour was Jamie Forrester when they were in League 2 and I would listen quietly and respectfully to their fans? passionate and knowledgeable exposés of the situation in the lower leagues almost as if it were happening in a parallel universe.

It is all quite different now. Hats off to them, since moving from Boothferry Park and acquiring the knowhow of Adam Pearson in particular they have moved to a super little stadium, climbed three divisions in four years, and they now sit at the top tier of British Football for the first time in their history. They were the biggest city in Europe never to have had a team in the top tier of the domestic football competition before this season. On the evidence of today?s game they might gatecrash the Premier League party for a few seasons to come yet.

What was very different this week was the thought of having to go to work on Monday and avoid certain fanatics in the corridor if Everton lost. Years of my polite but condescending interest in the follies of Hull City were about to catch me up. I was also going there today not just as an interested observer but as the enemy. My son Gerard, 15 years of age Hull born and bred, wore an Everton shirt with Cahill on the back. Sat as we were amongst the Hull faithful, this made for an interesting afternoon.

I predicted a 2-2 draw as I thought we could not yet defend for toffee and that we had a gruelling match on Thursday in preparation. Howard was in goal, Neville, Yobo, Jagielka and Baines were at the back. Arteta, Castillo, Cahill, Fellaini and Osman across the middle and Yakubu up front. More than enough to see this lot off in truth.

Hull City had Myhill in goal, a really promising young keeper. McShane at right back (leaked 7 against us for Sunderland last year), Zayette (trialled but moved along by Everton over the Summer) and Turner at centre back and Dawson at left back. Mendy was on the right, Marney and Ashbee at centre mid and the interesting Halmosi on the left. Daniel Cousin, ex of Rangers made his debut alongside Marlon King at the front for them. Phil Brown, acolyte of Big Sam Allardyce is the manager so watch out for set pieces I thought.

Well, Everton started well, they passed the ball well and had at least three good chances in the opening 20 minutes. Osman miskicked two of them and Yakubu lashed a spectacular volley straight at Myhill after a really good knockdown from Fellaini. In the meantime Hull did well. Halmosi won at least five set pieces for them in promising positions and from one of them Turner outbattled Fellaini to a corner from Marney and Hull were one up. A bad goal to concede but if we had scored first I think this really could have been a long day for Hull.

For such a big bloke Fellaini lost a lot of headers and tackles in the first half. Castillo was neat and tidy but did give the ball away once too often for Moyes and didn?t reappear in the second half. The Hull strikers gave Yobo and Jagielka a lot to think about and Halmosi won a number of dodgy refereeing decisions in a clever way so fair play to him. Everton were really trying to play football, mostly up the right, Neville often had a lot of space to cross or shoot but of course didn?t. We seemed to miss a direct or speedy wide player. Pienaar or Obinna perhaps.

Many people on Toffeeweb last year complained about Moyes not being decisive enough. Not this time. Baines had been neat and tidy but largely anonymous in the first half. Lescott and, I had to rub my eyes, Louis Saha entered the fray at 45 minutes.

We began the second half by conceding by far the daftest goal I had seen this weekend bar one (the goal Reading ?scored? at Watford in the Championship). A corner from Marney, Marlon King got out of the way and Neville and Howard both directed the ball towards our own net. Pathetic really and quite unprofessional. Two of your most experienced players contriving to throw away a goal like that. But what do you do when you have nobody pressing to replace them?

In true Blue style, the remaining 40 minutes were all Everton as they passed the ball about superbly and roared back at the Tigers. Arteta moved from the left to the right, Osman moving in the opposite direction, Cahill moved to the right and Arteta came into the centre. Fellaini got forward but the revelation was Saha. He jumped prodigiously and early and won headers, he linked the play beautifully, he darted onto through balls and with a bit of luck or better finishing could have scored three. Yakubu was eclipsed.

After good work by Osman, Cahill lashed one in off the bar, well spotted by the linesman. Saha could have scored before with a good effort that brought a great save from Myhill. Within minutes of scoring our first, Saha played in Yakubu and he crossed for Osman to score. Osman nearly got a second late on. Everton passed the ball so well that Marney and Ashbee were absolutely out on their feet. Hull did win a dangerous free kick and a corner late on but it was really all Everton from the 50th minute.

Everton defended like a relegation team and passed and attacked in the second half like a top four team. £40 for two tickets and a great view of the match, overall though, two points dropped. Some questions to answer about defending set pieces, also about the goalkeeping and about the speed of some of our wide play.

Match Ratings

Howard ? never thought I?d say it but I?m worried about him, he needs to up his game. 4

Neville ? seems reluctant to head the ball, gave away free kicks in dangerous areas, does get forward very well on the right though. 5

Baines ? competent when called upon but a bit anonymous, also where are the screaming piledrivers into the top corner of the net? Lacking in confidence. 5

Yobo ? stood up quite well to a lot of pressure in the first half. One hopeless hoof for a lineout up the touchline in the second half. 6

Jagielka ? defended well generally despite the odd daft decision to head the ball straight up in the air 7

Osman ? heaven and hell, should have scored at least twice, plenty of energy and clever touches. 7

Cahill ? lots of intelligent play and a good goal. 7

Castillo ? Neat and tidy, one howler of a poor pass 6

Fellaini ? promising but a little off the pace of the Premier League at the moment. 5

Arteta ? passing, movement, clever play always wanting the ball, top class 8

Yakubu ? a mystery, bags of ability needs better application 6

Saha ? super debut, fast, direct without being greedy, classy with an excellent attitude 9

Lescott - better than Baines at the moment, at least going forward 7

Vaughan ? only got five minutes but now looks to be behind Anichebe and Saha.

Hull City ? first half performance 8 second half performance 2, a bit like John Barnes on Strictly Come Dancing. I said to my pal David after the game, ?They will have to win their games against the teams around them if they want to stay up?. He said, ?Who do you mean, Chelsea? Man United?? One look at the table gave me that whole parallel universe feeling once again.

Reader Comments

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Dave Wilson
1   Posted 22/09/2008 at 06:47:59

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I always enjoy reading how other people saw it.
This was no exception

A great read Kevin,
Richard Parker
2   Posted 22/09/2008 at 07:38:36

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I thought that, even in the last 30 minutes, we were still way short of our best. There was a real lack of coherence throughout the team.

Here’s what I thought player-for-player: -

Howard: 4, worryingly should probably have done much more for both goals. For the first time at Everton we’re seeing the Howard that SAF dropped.
Neville: 6, too many free-kicks given away, but used the ball well.
Yobo: 7, dependent, unremarkable which is usually a good thing for a centre back.
Jags: 7, As Yobo
Osman: 5, it just wasn’t happening for Ossie for some reason. Very often didn’t manage to control the ball, just wasn’t his day.
Baines: 5, anonymous.
Arteta: 6, some nice touches, but way below par for our most talented player. He played far too deep 2nd half to use his talents to hurt Hull, why does he insist on running 30 yards to take the ball of our defenders? Poor delivery.
Fellaini: 6, thought he looked much more comfortable than last time out, still nothing special for a £15M man.
Castillo: 7, broke up Hull’s attacks pretty well and made some nice passes. Still a bit wayward from time-to-time.
Cahill: 6, not involved as much as we’d all like. Still appears some way short of his best, understandably. Still you just can’t stop him scoring.
Yakubu: 8, thought he has one of his best games for us this season, despite not scoring. Held the ball up well and showed for the pass, especially 2nd half. Some very clever play. Too isolated 1st half.

Lescott: 6, better, but still doesn’t look like he’s on it. I don’t get what’s happened to him over the summer.
Saha: 8, good debut. Still maybe a little rusty, but he caused plenty of problems. A promising partner for the Yak if he can stay fit and regain his sharpness.
Vaughan: 5, energetic as usual, but didn’t have much time or opportunity to make an impact. Hilarious attempt at an overhead kick.

Overall we weren’t good. But we just about deserved the draw. A very worrying run of form ahead of the shite at our place and probably the most important game of our season away at Liege.

Alan Bennett
3   Posted 22/09/2008 at 08:41:42

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Early days, I know but just what was it that pursuaded Moyes to blow £15M on Fellaini? He seems ordinary to say the least.
Dave Harrison
4   Posted 22/09/2008 at 09:13:10

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I too have been exiled in Hull for 21 years and have witnessed the transformation (brought about by a new stadium & prudent management). It was a very proud day as my youngest was EFC mascot. It?s good to report that all at Everton were obliging and friendly. My impressions of the game were that Hull City were more up for it in the 1st Half but finally in the 2nd some players began to show why they are worth so much money. A little more commitment (or confidence?) from the off required...
Alan Ross
5   Posted 22/09/2008 at 09:24:40

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One cameo moment summed up this game and Everton?s plight thus far and for the remainder of the season if things aren?t rectified. About 30 mins into the first half, Jags had the ball some 10 yards out of Everton?s penalty area with no immediate threat from any Hull player. Castillo was unmarked in the centre circle and what I mean by unmarked; no Hull player was nearer than 15 yards. The direction in which Jags was going he could only have been staring straight at Castillo and with a clear path between the two. For any team in the so called top 4 that through ball would have been automatic. Indeed, having watched a number of other teams so far this season, it would not be restricted to the few. So what does Jags do next.... he hoofs the ball up to the Hull back line where no Everton player was within 5 yards of the receiving Hull defender.

Why, oh-fucking-why do we have to give the ball away so much when it?s plainly obvious that the better teams are characterised by their ability to keep the ball? What do we hope to gain by such tactics....... surprise!!? I can forgive one-off defensive errors, but what is so frustrating about watching Everton at the moment is their inability to keep hold of the ball. One of the delights with Everton last season (at least up until February) was their sustained possession. All of a sudden we seem fucking clueless.

Moysie?s on field tactics have been oversadowed by other events of late and muddied his clear thinking but the sooner he gets his head round this problem the better.

Marc Williams
6   Posted 22/09/2008 at 11:54:40

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Alan Bennett - I?ve been wondering the same thing, so in answer to your question I?d say blind panic & desperation!

That said it is early days but so far he?s well off the pace & for a big fella doesn?t seem to be the towering muscle man I thought he would be, as he?s not winning headers & generally being pushed around. I watched him in the CL against the shite & was impressed so really hope this guy will come good for us. With any luck he?ll reproduce his CL performance against them next weekend & we?ll be wondering why we doubted him.

Kevin Gillen - Only saw the highlights & have not had a chance to catch up with people so really enjoyed reading your take on this game.
Robbie Muldoon
7   Posted 22/09/2008 at 12:40:55

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I just can’t see any justification in the price we paid for Felliani.
Dan Walshe
8   Posted 22/09/2008 at 15:43:55

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I think the problem with Fellaini so far is that he has been thrown straight into the team and we are expecting instant results. In an ideal world we could introduce him gently but we don’t have the squad for that (as we all know after the summer). I am refusing to judge him until after christmas and am ignoring the transfer fee. Saying all that he has played Liverpool twice recently so maybe he will feel more at home in that game. If he plays like he did against them for liege he will be an instant hero which probably proves my point that it is way too soon to judge him
Kevin Gillen
9   Posted 22/09/2008 at 20:03:36

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It is a metaphor for life in Hull away from Liverpool. Here we find ouselves at our most abject in the worst of all places. Like Samson after his betrayal. Well spotted by the way.
Ste Dunne
10   Posted 23/09/2008 at 10:52:10

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Dan, We paid £15 million for him as he is allegedly one of the most exciting young players in Europe. Why on earth should he be ?introduced gently????
Alec Beaumont
11   Posted 10/10/2008 at 20:04:23

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Good article Kev, Let me know if you are making a trip to Goodison soon.

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