COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
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.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 27/08/2009 at 22:28:28
2 Posted 27/08/2009 at 23:15:29
3 Posted 28/08/2009 at 03:56:16
We could draw some tasty opposition: Roma, Eindhoven or Villareal (remember them?)
4 Posted 28/08/2009 at 06:01:31
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.
5 Posted 28/08/2009 at 08:16:47
6 Posted 28/08/2009 at 08:53:42
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!
7 Posted 28/08/2009 at 09:36:47
8 Posted 28/08/2009 at 09:48:49
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.
9 Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:04:31
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.
10 Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:07:11
That Northern Ireland guy on 5 is indeed a red shite following supporter as volume adjustments definitely should apply.
11 Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:17:03
I thought Neville also played well in doubly difficult circumstances last night; whilst Rodwell again looked very comfortable on the ball.
12 Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:30:52
13 Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:49:36
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.
14 Posted 28/08/2009 at 10:58:47
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.
15 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:07:13
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.
16 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:40:03
17 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:40:18
I’d much rather cruise through to the knockout stages and beyond than see "challenges" against teams who could well hammer us.
18 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:41:19
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.
19 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:46:14
20 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:46:19
Osman, Jo, Fellaini, Hibbert - not up to it.
21 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:25:40
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.
22 Posted 28/08/2009 at 11:52:59
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....
23 Posted 28/08/2009 at 13:32:52
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.
24 Posted 28/08/2009 at 14:01:49
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.
25 Posted 28/08/2009 at 14:32:20
Ah, the eternal cycle of football!
26 Posted 28/08/2009 at 14:34:57
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.
27 Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:13:40
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)
28 Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:16:17
29 Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:22:32
I tell it like I see it Mathew..Whether people like it or not.
30 Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:38:08
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
31 Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:53:56
32 Posted 28/08/2009 at 15:27:59
33 Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:05:37
34 Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:02:12
35 Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:26:21
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.
36 Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:37:46
37 Posted 28/08/2009 at 17:53:03
38 Posted 28/08/2009 at 20:15:30
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.
39 Posted 29/08/2009 at 00:27:37
40 Posted 29/08/2009 at 06:41:22
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 ?
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
41 Posted 29/08/2009 at 11:52:57
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