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From my seat: Sigma (a)

By Ken Buckley :  27/08/2009 :  Comments (41) :
A stroll in the sun saw ten men Blues almost saunter to a 5-1 aggregate win.

I watched this one on TV which is always a bane for me as I am forced to watch proceedings through another’s eyes. OK you get slo-mo’s and close ups but overall play, build up and off the ball awareness is almost impossible to appreciate.

4-0 up from the first leg and from the off we were just not going to be adventurous but rather contain, push on when we could and if we snatched something well fine. This was reflected in the line up, even with a threadbare squad we had enough to rotate Cahill, Saha and have teenagers on the bench for some much needed Euro experience as well as Yak to start the process of match fitness and shake off the rusty bits.

The plan went awry some 4 mins in when the completely out of sorts Baines was caught day-dreaming instead of decisive and put the other back three in a hopeless position which resulted in Hibbert having to make a last ditch tackle to prevent an early present for Sigma; it was ruled to be from behind, Hibbert saw red and we had a further 86 mins to see out. Thanks a bunch, Leighton.

However, as in the game at Goodison the opposition were on the bad side of poor and this resulted in anyone switching on late would have no idea we were down to ten until told. Playing 4-4-1 we still looked cultured and at times it was us that had the spare man.

This approach payed off just on half-time and, after Jo had missed an earlier sitter, the excellent Pienaar found Osman who then put in his best and only decisive bit of play by skipping past his man, looking up and seeing Pienaar who had drifted intelligently to the edge of the box, found him with a great pass, Pienaar took it on his thigh and then rifled into the net. Ten men or no, that was game over.

The second half was notable only for the Blues to see off anything the very poor Sigma side could muster and beyond the 18-yd line that was nought. Also Baxter and Wallace, both 17, were trusted to get some Euro experience under their belt and the Yak to continue his rehabilitation. We did lose a goal late on from an inventive free kick but it was mere consolation for them and a lesson in defending for us.

Overall not much you could take from the game such was the poor standard of opposition but we beat what was before us and I for one am delighted that Euro nights are back on the agenda and, with Ruski Bily and Distin added to the squad and a hint of more to come from the manager, then the final whistle left me with more hope for that which is before us. Wigan Sunday might get sold out now...

Tonight’s Shiners:- Pienaar, Fellaini and Rodwell. Shockers:- Baines and Osman. See you Sunday to collect our first points.

Reader Comments

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Graham Smallwood
1   Posted 27/08/2009 at 22:28:28

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Anyone know how the seedings work and who we may get - hoping for Celtic in the group?
Mark Pierpoint
2   Posted 27/08/2009 at 23:15:29

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Agree with the write up here. Baines was not at the races at all. Never got over the mistake for the penalty. After reading Moyes's comments I can’t understand how he can complain to be honest. Another positive I feel was Gosling’s performance at RB. Looked quite assured, I think that if he is to make it at Everton or in the Premier League in General it is going to be there. Man of the match for me has to be Pienaar, a class above everyone on that pitch tonight.
Ian Lund
3   Posted 28/08/2009 at 03:56:16

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There is no chance of being drawn in the same group as Celtic as we are in the same pot or Fulham as we cannot play a team from the same league at this stage. See UEFA page:

We could draw some tasty opposition: Roma, Eindhoven or Villareal (remember them?)
Dave Wilson
4   Posted 28/08/2009 at 06:01:31

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I know what you mean about watching it on the telly, Ratcliffe was painful and didn't you just love the way that twat presenter called us either Everen or Everden — depending on how excited he was pretending to be — apparently he’s RS too. Sound down next time

Was I the only one to have a quick nervous glance at the clock when we went down to 10 men? Needn't have, as you say Ken they were not great.

Job done
Suzanne Gelazio
5   Posted 28/08/2009 at 08:16:47

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ken. it may just be me but i dont think fellaini did anything of note whatsoever, i just cant see what he brings to the team. also thought baines had a few bad touches and that if we had any pace in attack we would have destroyed them but we dont. sad to say but even an idiot like bellamy would have had a field day last night. also dont think osman did much wrong but he cant play wide right sorry..
Ciarán McGlone
6   Posted 28/08/2009 at 08:53:42

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I agree - I can’t stand players who don’t close down when we don’t have the ball - or find space when we do..It basics of the game - Fellaini simply saunters around the pitch waiting for the ball on a silver plattter and puts otehr players in danger with hospital passes - He very rarely is able to take the ball around an opposing player cleanly....he always shows it to the opposition..resulting in a scramble of legs which invariably results in us losing the ball..

I’m losing patience rapidly - where the hell has the potential gone!
Gareth Lucy
7   Posted 28/08/2009 at 09:36:47

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Sorry! At what point did the £15m midfield enforcer Fellaini ’shine’??? I thought he once again looked like he couldn’t give a sh!te, slowly ambled around, played one or two simple balls, never looked for the ball, and mostly gave away possesion. Honestly, having to play for Everton is an inconvenience to that man.
Steve Edwards
8   Posted 28/08/2009 at 09:48:49

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Isn’t it amazing how people can watch a game of football and see things completely different. I thought Fellaini had a really good game. For me he imposed himself on midfield, was good in possesion, covered well and generally ran his socks off. In fact he got better and better as the game went on.

I think a lot is down to people at some point deciding they don’t like somebody and then whatever the person does they have already decided they won’t like it.
Ciarán McGlone
9   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:04:31

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Or maybe people can’t see the problems with his play because they’ve brainwashed themselves into seeing the best of him while ignoring the massive holes in his game.

Or of course, you could be completely right Steve... and he actually did close down and move with urgency, track players and not play any hospital passes... And those who did see these things simply hallucinated.
Anthony Newell
10   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:07:11

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Although In anger I branded Fellaini £15 mill worth of garbage last weekend I have to admit that on the glimpses I had of him last night he did appear to trap the ball well and release it to fellow players at the right moments. He still has a long way to go though to establish himself and I’d like him to get rid of that comedy barnet and adopt a more ’professional’ image.

That Northern Ireland guy on 5 is indeed a red shite following supporter as volume adjustments definitely should apply.

Paul Thompson
11   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:17:03

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I remain unconvinced by Fellaini and can certainly see the holes in his game. But last night I thought his effort and skill levels were good — our best player after Pienaar. A wider point concerns an issue brought up a number of times on this site — whether Cahill and Fellaini can play (effectively) in the same team. Last night was further evidence that the answer may be no. Cahill has looked lost in the games so far and I suspect it’s because the roles they are being asked to play, or favour playing, are too similar.

I thought Neville also played well in doubly difficult circumstances last night; whilst Rodwell again looked very comfortable on the ball.
Steve Edwards
12   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:30:52

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Paul - I don’t think you can play Fellaini and Cahill together in midfield and I think this will be a big problem for David Moyes. I don’t see a way around this, both of them prefer the second striker/ forward midfielder role. Cahill is wasted playing deeper in midfield. Anyways, thats what Moyes gets paid for so over to you David.
Paul Gladwell
13   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:49:36

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Ciaran day in day out I come on this site for a browse and I read is you patronising fellow blues for having a different opinion to you.
Every article is raided with your moans and patronising shite and I wonder why people on other sites slaughter this site some calling it
I have no intention of getting into one of your almost hourly arguements mate, but honestly have a word.
James Boden
14   Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:58:47

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Outside of the cross, (which was a shite 1 anyway) Osman was pants again. When will Moyes ever learn? Fellaini once again showed why he is a waste of 15 million and not in Cahill’s league. I thought Baines also had a shocker and for pete’s sake I hope we bring in another centre half so we can bin Yobo. And as for Jo- the less said, the better.
On the upside aside from Pienaar excelling as to be expected, Rodwell again played well and another bright spark was Gosling. Hopefully that will spell the end of Hibbert.
Ciarán McGlone
15   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:07:13

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Both Pauls,

I was merely providing the other side of Steve’s coin - I was simply being as equally condescending as he was to prove a point - his suggestion was that anybody having a differing opnion than him must have been pre-deciding that they don’t like Fellaini - rather than giving an honest appraisal of his game..

Interesting you choose to ignore the initial condescension...or maybe my subtle rebuttal of Steve’s position went right over both your heads.
Patty Beesley
16   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:40:03

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Ciaran ... We can’t all be wrong regarding your manner towards your fellow blues. However, I do agree with you about Fellani
Mike Dillon
17   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:40:18

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Am I the only one hoping we get some dodgy no-mark Eastern European pub teams in our group?

I’d much rather cruise through to the knockout stages and beyond than see "challenges" against teams who could well hammer us.
Paul Gladwell
18   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:41:19

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There you go again, you just cannot help yourself can you?
Actually I thought Fellaini looked and played much better playing deep and think he has a big talent which is getting wasted with the actual ground he covers and the work he does,
Top midfielders need to work tirelessly to be classed a top midfielder and Fellaini at this moment does not IMHO, but I wont hit someone with some smarmy reply if they disagreed with my opinion.
Ciarán McGlone
19   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:46:14

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Gareth Lucy
20   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:46:19

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James hits the nail on the head. Although, I would also add that I thought Jack Rodwell looked calm and composed on the ball at all times and is getting better and better (if anyone looked like a £15m player, Rodwell was it)

Osman, Jo, Fellaini, Hibbert - not up to it.
Matthew Tait
21   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:25:40

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It’s interesting how divisive Fellaini is. I think a lot of people see what Fellaini doesn’t do well, and that blinds them to what he does do well. And I also think it works just as much the other way round.

I think the main reason for all this is the high price tag. If we had picked him up for £5m or less I think we’d all be pretty happy with him as a squad player. But because he cost so much, we, not unreasonably, have higher expecations. (Though the £15m figure that keeps getting reported is wrong, I believe - was it not 15m euro, not pounds, and I very much doubt more than half of that was paid up front.)

Personally I’m probably more or less with Ciaran. Though he has some very good qualities and plenty of potential, I find Fellaini a very frustrating player to watch. He doesn’t appear to move much, and rarely pressures or tackles the opposition. His generally good (if unspectacular) passing and ball control, and very valuable arial outlet, don’t quite make up for that weakness for me, especially with Cahill overall probably a better alternative in the same position (and unfortunately Cahill is also mediocre at best in all other midfield positions).

Ultimately it’s a shame. I believe from previous comments that Moyes bought Fellaini hoping he would become a top class box-to-box midfielder in the Viera mold, or at least a very solid defensive stopper who can also play the ball around. Unless his tackling and reading of the game improves drastically that won’t happen, which unfortunately makes him a bit of a sqaure peg in this team. I think once Arteta is back and as Rodwell develops we may see Fellaini and Cahill playing together less often, which would be a good thing for our balance.
Ciarán McGlone
22   Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:52:59

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Thank you Mathew,

At least you understood the point I was making in reference to ’an honest appraisal’ of the things he didn’t do as well as the things he did do....
Thomas Christensen
23   Posted 28/08/2009 at 13:32:52

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Watching the game last night I was pretty bored - I didn’t think we were very good and Sigma were really poor, not to mention the heat.

I do think Fellaini look a bit clumsy when making challenges — and I believe he made a few mroe last night than usual — but nothing like Carsley, maybe we are used to seeing him try to tackle in the Premier League and then this is followed by a whistle and a yellow card — that is why we really don’t like to see him challenge.

I thought Phil Neville was arugably our best player on the night*. He had the hardest job, keeping a defense together and talk Gosling through the match. Hats off to Captain Pip.

*Yes Pienaar, Gosling and the impressive Rodwell had good games too.
Matthew Tait
24   Posted 28/08/2009 at 14:01:49

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I really don’t quite understand all the love for Gosling. Maybe I’m missing something, but I just don’t think he’s very impressive at all. Sure that goal v Liverpool was fun, but as a player I’m not sure he’ll ever make the grade.

Does make me wonder if he’s still in the honeymoon phase with supporters - the grass is always greener, and some young bright spark is always preferable to whatever boring and fallible player is currently in the role. Until your young bright spark gets the job, has a few bad games, and we move on to some other hopeful...

To be honest I didn’t think any of our young players looked particularly good last night, and against very weak opponents. With the exception of Rodwell, who continues to look top class every game. That 40 yard pinpoint pass to the wing that he hit late on was an eye-opener.

Personally I don’t understand all the animosity for Hibbert. I still think he’s an excellent straight-up defender (much better than Baines), and is improving going forward. He’s certainly far better at right back than Gosling at this stage imo. Ok Hibbert had a bad game in the cup final (who didn’t?), but day in day out he’s generally very good at his job from what I can see.

I do understand why people have it in for Osman, I haven’t seen him have a good game for a long time, he makes any number of errors and looks very low on confidence. But nothing I’ve seen from Gosling suggests to me that he’s anywhere near being a useful alternative down the right..

Hopefully this new Russian will allow Pienaar to switch across, even though that would break up the partnership with Baines. With a better player in front of him, I would expect Hibbert to start looking a lot better too.
Ciarán McGlone
25   Posted 28/08/2009 at 14:32:20

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’Does make me wonder if he’s still in the honeymoon phase with supporters - the grass is always greener, and some young bright spark is always preferable to whatever boring and fallible player is currently in the role.’

Ah, the eternal cycle of football!

Excellent observation.
Ciarán McGlone
26   Posted 28/08/2009 at 14:34:57

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"Personally I don’t understand all the animosity for Hibbert. I still think he’s an excellent straight-up defender (much better than Baines), and is improving going forward."


The thing about Hibbert is that he’s been gradually improving since the start of last season, and that includes his offensive work and his crossing — the injury he had put him back a bit and he was rushed back for a cup final he was never going to be fit for...

Again this season he’s been the most improved player yet still people are clambering for a right back replacement... He was great in the first three games of the season. I’d love to see Hibbert with a decent player in front of him who doesn’t leave him exposed.

But I suppose if people can’t see he’s improved immensely at this stage, then they’ll never see it.
Matthew Tait
27   Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:13:40

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Ciaran McGlone in postive comment about an Everton footballer shock!

Haha I kid, I kid! Now if it had been Tony March that said that, I’d be on the phone to the Times asking them to hold the front page. :o)
Matthew Tait
28   Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:16:17

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whoops, sorry Tony - Marsh, not March!
Ciarán McGlone
29   Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:22:32

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I tell it like I see it Mathew..Whether people like it or not.
Art Jones
30   Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:38:08

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" Again this season he’s been the most improved player yet still people are clambering for a right back replacement... He was great in the first three games of the season."


I’ve been to all our games this season and to go back on a point previously mentioned wher people see things differently but Tony Hibbert IMO , has been roasted in all of them , it seems most managers have done their homework and know RB is our achilles heel ( sorry Yak ) and have acted accordingly . I Like Tony , a true Blue and a 100% pro ... not good enough now sorry
Ciarán McGlone
31   Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:53:56

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Well maybe ’great’ was a bad choice of word there - because no-ones been great so far...but he’s been certainly no worse than anyone else..and he was one of the better players in all three matches.
Conor Waters
32   Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:27:59

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Jesus lads get a room....
Kevy Quinn
33   Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:05:37

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Ciaran you come on here critising people for their posts then say that about Hibbert? Surely you must be just posting on this site for a laugh. Hibbert is an average player and is usless in the final third. For Arsenals 4th goal he had all day to cross the ball but hit it straight at Arshavin then proceeded to get nut meged and the rest is history. Please say you were joking.
Steve Edwards
34   Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:02:12

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I fear that Dan Gosling has reached a plato as often happens with a lot of good young players. They have to take it to another level and unfortunately they havn’t got it in them. I can’t see any progress being made by Dan. He may still be useful as a squad player but I’ll be surprised if he ever becomes a regular in the side. I also thought he was poor last night and at one stage feared that he may get sent off after being booked. I thought he was all over the place and was more often than not caught out of position.
Paul Gladwell
35   Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:26:21

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Rule one in Euro two legged affairs, you shut up shop away. The shite in the 80s invented it and we are starting to learn it after a shambolic affair in Bucharest.
We are getting excited now about visiting one of the most famous stadiums in the world plus other games in Athens whilst Villa look forward to trying to finish fifth which seems pointless if they dont intend to try and compete in the competition they have just gone out in.
I have booked my flights and I am well happy and you can bet Villa fans wont be.
We are learning and did a good job last night, so how about some credit for the players now and again.
Paul Gladwell
36   Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:37:46

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Sorry Ciaran has got my brain twisted this post was related to the boring Everton article.
Ray Roche
37   Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:53:03

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I think Hibberts’ defensive qualities are underestimated as regards his tackling, however,his positional play leaves much to be desired. He gets pulled in too much which leaves us vulnerable to the cross to the far post and frequently allows a winger/wide player too much room. I think he had started to look a decent full back last season before he got injured, but has seemingly forgotten his defensive responsibilities. The Final was a real downer for him but if he had someone in front providing cover then,and now, he might look a better player. Think back, he was even mentioned as a possible England squad player! Christ...did I just repeat that....
Gerry Western
38   Posted 28/08/2009 at 20:15:30

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I thought Fellaini was a candidate for MOTM award to be honest. I’m now getting tired with comments about his every performance being linked to his fee. It seems that every time he makes a tackle or plays a pass some are questioning if the pass or tackle was that of a 15m player. Get real for heavens sake, by those standards no striker could be forgiven for passing up an opportunity to score, equally no defender would be permitted to concede a solitary goal. It’s getting to the point now where if he were to totally boss a game some would still come on and say he was crap.

Is it the case as someone else has pointed out that we now have some people who make up their minds about Fellaini before the game has even kicked off. There have been times when I’ve read comments that have been so far off the mark I truly wondered if the contributor had even watched the game or simply read the negative views of someone else and regurgitated them.
Steve Edwards
39   Posted 29/08/2009 at 00:27:37

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Exactly my point Gerry, I think it is in some people's nature, once they’ve made up their mind, that's it.
Dave Wilson
40   Posted 29/08/2009 at 06:41:22

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Steve Edwards

You make a very good point.

People will not change their minds about Hibbert, imagine if his pass forced Baines into a last ditch tackle adn Baines was sent off ? you would never hear the last of it

And how come when Cahill is annonymous "he’s being played out of position" but when Osman has played out of position all last season he’s labelled "just shite"
Ok Ossie will never be as great as The Tiger at attacking crosses, but could you ever envisage Cahill skipping past a couple of players and laying on a goal. like Ossie did ? wouldnt happen would it ?

Mathew Tait

I agree with you about Gosling, I really hope we are both wrong , But I dont think he’ll make it in the top flight either. With regards to all the love and his honymoon period, I dont think it will ever end and rightly so, he gave all of us a very very special moment
Malcolm Evans
41   Posted 29/08/2009 at 11:52:57

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Fellaini cost 15 million quid, we had set a limit of 12million but it was deadline day and either had to pay it or not get him.

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