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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From My Seat: AEK Athens (H)

By Ken Buckley :  17/09/2009 :  Comments (35) :

What a difference four days can make. Although the team played well confusion was evident from the start, Yobo led out the team and the announcer named Baines as captain and as far as I could see no one wore the armband to start. Only Everton, eh!

AEK came with a name rather than a pedigree and from the off this new look Blues team seemed to me to be brighter, more inventive and more up for it than anything shown at the Cottage on Sunday. It was just little things like keeping the ball on the floor and passing with rhythm and conviction that got the fans at it.

The manager having to re-evaluate after the Neville injury along with the Hibbert suspension and Heitinga ineligibility fielded a team that although may have been seen as experimental or forced upon allowed for a more expansive approach than has been seen previously. As it turned out we either made the opposition look poor or they were poor.

As early as the first ten minutes we had seen Pienaar put in Jo only for him to be dispossessed and then Pienaar himself to have a fizzer go wide after the keeper intervened, enter Bilyaletdinov, he took a corner that puts defences into panic and invites forwards to attack, this time it was a centre-back in the shape of Yobo peeling off the back and planting a firm header home. The scene was set, they had to come out to salvage a point which suited the Blues who could then continue in the same vein and pick them off. Just before the twenty minute mark we forced another corner and all and sundry encouraged Bilyaletdinov to deliver something similar, he didn’t disappoint and Fellaini caused panic in the area leaving our other centre back to whip one in. Less than twenty minutes gone and both centre-backs have scored from deliveries from the new boy.

Then Jo had good chances with both head and foot before Bilyaletdinov found Pienaar in acres with a good spot and the South African took aim and found the net from some 25yds. 3-0 up and 3 assists from the new boy, encouraging or what? Now we were cruising. Rodwell was orchestrating like a seasoned veteran and the ball was being played around barely leaving the deck unless a hoof was required on the odd occasion leaving the half to end 3-0 and in truth game over.

H/T and to the delight of many our new signing Lucas Neill was paraded, in my view a good piece of business considering our commitments against squad strength due to injuries and lack of meaningful summer signings. How long is it since we have had a new player paraded at a game rather than the on the OS or back page of both Post and Echo?

The second half saw Cahill subbed and Osman coming on presumably because Cahill had been carded. Pienaar went into centre-mid where many have wanted to see him but he had no time at all to prove one way or the other as our new man limped out of a tackle and was replaced by the Yak causing Fellaini to partner Rodwell in the heart of midfield, the performance of the youngster allowing Fellaini to flourish in that role. With just ten minutes gone the AEK number 2 was sent off after aiming a kick at the nether regions of Distin and the rest of the half was boring in terms of the on park deliberations but the entertainment from the travelling fans was a joy to behold, you just had to be there to witness their antics and they drew applause from all corners of the ground. They tell me their ground holds 70,000 and with that support the away leg will be something else. During the rest of the half AEK had but one shot of venom that went wide while the Blues saw Saha on for Pienaar miss a sitter from a Baines cross, Rodwell have one trouble the keeper but with not much power and poor old Ossie get in great positions but just fail at the last hurdle each time.

With ten minutes to go Jo got the confidence booster all strikers need when he received a ball in the box, spun and despatched with some conviction 4-0 – icing on cake. Three minutes of injury time before we could all go for the post match pint and inquest, many pre-empted it and missed the sending off of Saha. I couldn’t see anything other than his hand come up but the defender went down as though pole-axed and the ref, who I thought had a good game showed red. 4-0 in the first group match at the whistle and without beating a great team, considering our poor start a result not to be sniffed at.

Overall I thought it a great night out with no colly-wobbles and just a pity more fans than the 27.000 assembled were not there to see some good entertainment both on and off the field not to mention Moyes discarding the dour defensive mantle as we almost finished with three centre-forwards on the park!

Some good performances from the likes of Fellaini, both centre-backs, Cahill in a midfield role, Gosling doing a job, Pienaar as reliable as ever, the Yak getting game time, Bilyaletdinov showing he could be a force and then giving us the worry of what was that injury that saw him replaced. The star of the night for me was Rodwell, always demanding the ball, spraying passes, taking up intelligent positions and in fact running the show. It’s a matter of time before a club with financial clout and CL opportunities tests the water. I don’t think our club as it stands can resist such an approach I can only hope the lad himself wants to stay.

Blackburn Sunday and some interesting choices for the manager which will be helped no-end if Bilyaletdinov is fit and the manager doesn’t see fit to rest the fledgling but burgeoning Rodwell until we have a more settled side. No two games are ever the same and the result will determine whether it’s rant or praise come final whistle. I just hope we play the joined up stuff on offer tonight, stand up to the Allerdyce school of battering, win the battle then the match. All will be revealed so see you there.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Dick Anderson
1   Posted 17/09/2009 at 19:18:20

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A really good result and a much improved performance after the Fulham defeat.

Marks out of 10:

Tim Howard - 6
Didn't really have anything to do but was composed when called into action. An easy nights work for Howard.

Dan Gosling - 7
Had a couple of dodgy moments but worked really hard and got forward well. Not sure I'd feel safe with him up against Premiership opposition but he did the job well tonight.

Joseph Yobo - 7
Took his goal easily and Captained the side competantly. Had an easy night but looks to be forming a decent partnership with Distin.

Sylvain Distin - 8
Looked very commanding at the back and scored an important goal. Distin has impressed so far in his short Everton career and he looks more then capable of filling the Lescott role. The more I see of him the more I think Moyes has scored another bargain.

Leighton Baines - 7
Form has been up and down so far this season but this was one of his good days. Got forward well and seemed to help debutee Bilyaletdinov, Lets hope this is the start of his consistant good form.

Jack Rodwell - 8
Gets better every game. Its amazing how calm, composed and assured this teenager is on the ball. Has an ability to find space under pressure and move the ball sensibly. A couple of great long passes showed his developing vision, Doesn't quite dominate the midfield yet but he's certainly getting there.

Tim Cahill - 6
Another game where our 'Talisman' has struggled to imvolve himself. Did a job but doesn't look to have hit his best form yet this season. Taken off at half time to avoid another booking.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov - 7
Decent debut. Looks very neat and tidy on the ball with a useful left foot. Some of his passes were very encouraging but looks as though he doesn't have alot of pace. Bilyaletdinov caused problems for the opposition and this was a very promising debut.

Marouane Fellaini - 7
He really is an enigma. At times he looks like a real player but he is prone to giving the ball away. Some of his passing was great tonight and he definately had a big influence on the game. One of his better games and hopefully he'll keep getting better.

Steven Pienaar - 9
Man-Of-The-Match performance. What a great player Stevie is when he's in the mood. He works really hard and is so clever moving the ball. His goal was superb and he caused problems for the opposition all night until Moyes took him off as a precaution.

Jo - 6
Seems to picking up the David Moyes hard work ethic but once again his lack of pace and skill was clear. This was one of his better games but to be fair he didn't cause many problems and I can't remember him once getting behind the defense. Took his goal well though.

Leon Osman - 7
Came on at half time and involved himself at every opportunity. Had a few chances but its not quite happening for Leon at the moment. Always open for the ball though and could prove to be a very useful impact sub.

Yakubu - 7
Great to see the Yak back and there were glimpses of his old power and pace returning. Caused a few problems turning and running at defenders. I forgot how hard it is to knock him off the ball. Everton will be so much more dangerous when he's back to full fitness.

Louis Saha - 6
One moment of sublime skill and one moment of stupidity. I do feel he's a good player but should have known better then to raise his hand to an opponents face.

David Moyes - 8
Got everything right on the night. Everton were at the races right from the start and played some entertaining football. Gosling worked at right back and Moyes made three very attacking substitutions. Moyes and the players now have quite a bit of european experience and this performance will send out a message.

Now to transfer the confidence gained in this game to the Premiership.

Peter Bourke
2   Posted 18/09/2009 at 05:45:50

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Have to agree with both appraisals although Dick, i would not have scored the Yak higher than Tim Cahill. Tim was having a great game up until he was subbed and was doing what he does best, in getting under the skin of the opposition and winning plenty of contests in the centre of the park. His distribution was sharp as well.
The Yak tried to get into the game and he delivered an assist for Jo’s goal, but realistically the contribution by Timmy was far greater than the Yak, IMHO.
Dave Wilson
3   Posted 18/09/2009 at 05:29:22

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Thanks Ken

I didn’t get there last night, it was on Chanel 5, so I watched with sound off, but it looked like Bilyaletdinov’s was applying an ice pack to the groin area, hopefully nothing too serious, but I’ll be surprised to see him against Blackburn, its the first time I’ve seen him and I like him already. Couldn’t agree more about young Jack, he’s been compared to Steven Gerrard on these pages, but he’s nothing like him, he reminds me more of Gareth Barry - not bad for a teenager. I’m no fan of this competition, but it was an escape from the breakneck speed of the Prem and if we can use it to gain a bit of confidence and fluency, I’m more than happy to reconsider The opposition were poor, so I’m not getting carried away, but that was really quite encouraging
Rupert Sullivan
4   Posted 18/09/2009 at 08:16:33

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I think that the midfield was superbly controlled by Jack and Fellaini - Rodwell with his calm and collected approach, never hurried on the ball and his measured passing combined with Fellaini’s energy and bustle and his ability to get in around the player’s feet.

This formation worked brilliantly, freeing up Bilyaletdinov, Pienaar and Ossie (when he came on) to play with space.

Let’s hope DM sticks with this for a bit.
Paul Gladwell
5   Posted 18/09/2009 at 08:26:43

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Thought Cahill ran his bollocks off closing people down and deserved a better score than six, also disagree with your Fellaini shout too, as I bet if you looked at pass completion stats in our squad then he would rank very close, if not top of the squad, plus he broke up alot of Athens attacks and is learning how to tackle without fouling.
It was nice to see some great one touch football and nice to see our manager being a bit more adventurous.
Ciarán McGlone
6   Posted 18/09/2009 at 08:20:07

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I’m Stunned.

After one of the worst performances we’ve seen under Moyes we get this...one of the best - in fact, the best - in terms of proper football.

Now, I’m not gonna get carried away because the opposition were not that good...but the first half was the best display of football I’ve seen under Moyes. Our team looked balanced, with Baines and Bily striking up an immediate partnership on the left that included intricate short-range passing and decent long balls to feet... and not to be outdone, Gosling and Pienaar repeated the same combinations on the right.

For once we had two balanced attacking threats down both sides of the pitch... added to that, both overlapping full backs performed their defensive duties admirably. That’s twice Gosling has played in that role and twice he’s excelled. He’s not good enough for midfield... but my god, it’s so obvious that he could be a cracking right back.

Rodwell was immense in the middle and played the box-to-box role with poise, maturity and most commendably — with skill. Who needs a dedicated defensive midfielder when we’ve got Rodwell? Fellaini did his job well and got involved in the passing stuff from both sides of the pitch - linking up the play.

The centre halves were both composed and obviously both got on the scoresheet... and were the conduit for the passing game by not hoofing it everytime they got it. Yobo proved that he can deputise for (if not usurp) Neville.

The only problem with the first half was Cahill and Jo. In my opinion, Jo is simply not a very good forward... not much more I can say than that. But we have the Yak and Saha, so I’m not too concerned.

Cahill looks out of place in a team that wants to play a neat passing game — I’m salivating at the thought of adding Arteta into that team in place of Cahill and Saha in place of Jo... Surely that is our best first eleven.

As for the second half... the deterioration of the passing game with the changing the formation and the addition of repeatedly poor players was evident... although I’m going to caveat this brickbat with the fact that the players that went off seemed to have taken knocks, and I’ll forgive Moyes for robbing me of a repeat of the first half..

Let’s hope Moyes realises the positive effect of playing the right players in the right positions — and in the right formation, and he learns from that first half — both what his best eleven is, and how those players can play whenever used correctly... and that certain players should only really be used in a dire emergency in future.

This is why people get angry with Moyes — because we can play stuff like that...

Michael Kidd
7   Posted 18/09/2009 at 09:44:15

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I thought Fellaini was very good - I didn’t see much that didn’t go to its intended recipient. The Yak was looking quite menacing although obviously needs more games under his belt before being fully back to his best - I am sure it is not easy for a defender looking after him. Osman looked lively but someone else must take the setpieces! And other than a few moments, some of which involved the defender (usually Yobo) gesticulating to the other players to move into space or to come and look for the ball, nearly no hoofball in sight. However poor the opponents were (and one doesn’t know that for sure) one still has to put the ball into the net and we did that four times. Macclesfield last year anyone?
Anthony Newell
8   Posted 18/09/2009 at 09:42:50

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What a difference a bit of passing makes. That was my general observation apart from:

1) Billy showed enough in the time he was on to confirm he must start every game
2) AEK were complete garbage. I don’t recall them seriously worrying us at any stage other than a few speculative shots on goal and a few shots very late on
3) JuanFran - utter cheating bastard. What is the use of extra officials if players still get away with this. Surely this red must be rescinded although I doubt it as Saha raised his arm - when are players going to realise that as soon as they do this they risk landing in trouble. Jeez, it’s professional football, not a kickaround in the school yard. Keep your 4kin arms down
4) Do we really miss Neville?! does his absence contribute to us keeping on the deck / make Fellaini/Rodwell more effective
5) What is going to be the role for Cahill? I’m starting to think we could be better off with 4-4-2 as the Yak nears fitness. Cahill on bench?

Can’t help but view this as a side show given how shit we have started in the league. None of this will matter unless we beat Blackburn on Saturday and to that effect it will be interesting who starts at RB, what formation we opt for and who starts. Surely, not a dire 4-5-1 with Hibbo & Osman back as I’d cut my throat
Peter Bourke
9   Posted 18/09/2009 at 09:57:49

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"Cahill looks out of place in a team that wants to play a neat passing game" -

WTF!
Cairan, this comment is outrageous and so far off the mark,..... beggars belief.... no idea.
Alan Kirwin
10   Posted 18/09/2009 at 09:35:20

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Ciaran, that’s exactly the sort of succinct comment you have been known to make after others have commented earnestly & in depth.

It was clearly a joke by Gareth and for fairly obvious reasons. There have been promising signs from your good self of late. Be a shame to revert.

Anyhow, on your assessment, agree re Cahill. Timmy Talisman adds little or nothing to a middle 4. The time has surely come to adopt him as an impact player. Or indeed, sad as it makes me to suggest it, but to get a good price for him before he hits 30. There must surely be someone willing to cough up £7m or thereabouts for someone with Tiny Tim’s premier league pedigree.

Gosling didn’t fit the part for me. He just looked perpertually unsure of where to go. Not entirely surprising I guess, but stronger teams than AEK would crucify him. His close control is miles off Glen Johnson’s. I would anticipate that Lucas "show me the money" Neill will be regular RB soon. If he can suppress his instincts to assault opposition wingers & give free kicks away around the box he will do for us.

Bily’s dead ball delivery was gorgeous and the comprisons with Sheeds are warranted. I have not seen any Everton player hit a ball with such emphasis, confidence and instinct since Sheedy. I just love the idea of him providing width & trickery on the left, and then switching to the right to bamboozle and let fly with the beautiful left hook. I’m not the kind to over-egg things eaerly doors, but I sense that Moyes has bagged a real diamond.

Rodwell needs to slow down, as he is rapidly approaching imperiousness, and thus a bid from Man City. Henry Winter, my personal favourite, eulogises over Rodwell and wants him in South Africa with England. The boy doesn’t waste or give the ball away. That alone is worthy of a call up.

You seem tro have a downer on Jo, whereas I can see the possibilities. I wrote months ago about the potential for a partnership between him & Yak. He’s the kind of player who can occasionally look awkward, but he’s not. He has great skill, and energy, and indeed strength. He’s also still young and just needs to manage the flicks a bit better. It’s fucking hard work playing up front on your own for Everton when we’re playing like we have recently. Stick players in who can make things happen, and a strong attacker to share the work, and I believe you’ll see a very good player indeed.

Was great to see Yak back. I actually like his greed & directness around the box. We’ve missed it. But we have Saha too,and Jo, and Victor (who showed signs last season) so I think we’ll score plenty of goals.

Saha’s sending off is massively frustrating. The idea that an opponent can just welly you up the arse and you are not allowed to lift your arm in any way is a fucking nonsense. There were 6 bastard officials there. It’s easy to blame Saha and say he had to go. Bollocks. He barely touched the guy. He’s a man. He was assaulted. He mildly remonstrated with the Greek prick and he got sent off.

UEFA should review this sort of crap, and for very obvious reasons. If they looked at the video and decided that Saha a) was the man assaulted and b) responded only very mildly, then they withdrew his ban and instead banned the Greek, guess what would happen...

Yes, the slimeballs who practice this sort of "gamesmanship" will stop doing it.

And it’s frankly a nonsense to behold Saha getting a 3 game ban for tickling a guys chin, whilst Dickson Etuhu went in on Phil Neville without any care whatsoever and ensured his studs went right through Neville’s leg, and he doesn’t even get booked.

AEK were weak, but that’s being a little unfair on the energy and urgency and skill with which we started the game. We do seem to be getting the hang of the European game overall. We now have a run of league games (8) that could/should all be won. If we can get the league back on track in time to welcome Arteta, Yakubu, Jagielka, Neil and Bily into the squad then Tony Marsh might yet end up eating his words yet again.

Alphabet soup anyone?
Iain McWilliam
11   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:06:32

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Good performance against a pretty average team but was great to see Fellaini and Bily playing well. Rodwell kept moving the ball out wide quickly (as apposed to Nevilles slowness when he plays in the same position) so once again it proves that given a bit of encouragment from the coaching staff and playing the right combination of players we can play decent football. Interesting to see if we can do it against a higher standard of opposition.

P.S. I think playing Baines and Gosling at the back against the likes of Blackburn, Stoke and Bolton would be a no no as they will get bombarded with high balls.
Alan Kirwin
12   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:08:17

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Peter Bourke, don’t be so precious. Cahill has been majestic for Everton on many occasions over 5 years. But very few of them have involved the responsibilities of bossing a 4 man midfield.

Cahill’s forte is the John Wark role. A decenr enough midfielder but with an uncanny knack of ghosting in and with excellent timing to boot. But without doing him in, he has not the skill, vision or pace to operate in a middle 4. His timing of tackles is also questionable.

He has been fab for us. Should even have been captain a few times. But there’s no room for sentiment in sport or business. I’d happily keep Cahill as a talismanic impact player, or would now sell him for an offer over £6m.

That’s not disrespectful, just realistic and practical.
Dave Thompson
13   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:12:59

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I really wish they would sack the announcer. Skipper Leighton Baines? This from the man who created a full-back the other week, Leighton Hibbert.

Makes me pine for the days of Earl Hinchcliffe...
Alan Kirwin
14   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:12:57

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Good point Iain. i forgot to mention Fellaini so far. He made his reputation as a spoiler, Makelele if you will, but with the ability to take the ball box to box.

His role with us should be the same and last night I think we started to see that. He was more Beckenbauer than Makelele. He has good passing, great engine, skill and is suppressing the silly fouls. I always expected him to come through for us and have no doubt he will.

And frankly I like seeing an Everton team take the pitch with some height and strength. Having Fellaini and Rodwell in midfield is almost like doing a Haka to the opposition. Hopefully the days of an Everton midfield averaging 5’ 7" and 10st are gone.

Like Distin too, and seems he likes us. I reckon he’s a black Davey Weir.
Ciarán McGlone
15   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:12:53

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Alan,

I never ignorantly dismiss any opinion that is given with good grace and without abuse..I debate. Unlike others - a contrary opinion is simply not enough for me to adopt personal abuse.

Anyway, I digress...

The football. I try to base my analysis of Jo on what he does with the ball - which should negate the disadvantage of playing up top alone...

He doesn’t seem to be able to hold a ball up or make a simple pass...and inevitably ends up on the floor or giving the ball away...This shows a lack of basic skill that is not mitigated by his age of confidence. But I’m not overly concerned because of the Yak and Saha...I don’t think Jo will ever make it at Everton.

I can’t agree with you on Gosling either..I thought he looked very mature, composed and resolute..and overall his positioning looked to be spot on..However, you are right in highlighting the calibre of the game - but I think he’s more than earned his chance to prove that he can do it against premiership teams - after all he was schooled as a full back.

All in all, I’m delighted at the seismic change in way we played - an improvement that was bascially generated by instituting the changes that the so-called ’moaners’ have been highlighting since the beginning of the season and before...

Vindicated?
Mark Murphy
16   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:24:57

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Ciarán, I agree with most, especially the last line!

But I dont agree with your damning of Jo. I think he has good potential and will get better and better with the right kind of through ball that Bily and Peinaar can both deliver. A couple of touches on the edge of the box last night almost got him through and will in future games.

I worry too though, about Cahills role in the team. I like the look of Yak + Saha/Jo and cant see Cahill displacing Fella, Pienaar, Rodwell, Arteta (not to mention Neville when back) in a 4 man midfield so will Tim accept a peripheral role?

I hope so as he’s one of my favourites for his attitude and we always seem to do better with him in the team than out but I just cant see him adding anything as an out and out midfielder!

Great performance all round — proper football played by proper footballers who were encouraged to play!

Mark Murphy
17   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:31:07

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Ciarán,

My reply was to your original post - just bad timing it appeared after your second!
I still disagree with you on Jo!

I thought Gosling looked ok at right back but not sure how he would do as regular? Just after half time he let their winger get tot he by line — think he thought the ball was going dead? Very sunday league stuff and hopefully he got bollocked for it. Otherwise thought he did well!

Fella and Rodwell look great in the middle and Bily and Pienaar look promising on the flanks so where does that leave Arteta when he comes back? Guess we’ll have to hope that Moyes can pick his best team for the occasion and we’ll use them all to their best ability!

Re the sending off - yes it was annoying and that Juanka was a big tart but Saha should have just kept his arms down and waited until after the final whistle before giving the twat a piece of mind! Malaka is the appropriate word in Greek I believe?

David Hallwood
18   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:35:18

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Actually who Rodwell reminds me of, not only the way he plays but right down to the way he runs, is Bill Kenny-let’s hope he doesn’t suffer the same fate
Ciarán McGlone
19   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:52:13

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Mark, Nice touch with the greek profanity...

We’ll have to agree to differ on Jo..very frustrating..especially when all around him are performing with such panache..
Stian Skaar
20   Posted 18/09/2009 at 10:59:35

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I tend to agree with Ciarán on Jo, and would rate him a the third striker in the squad.

And all the talk about 4-4-2 is maybe a bit premature? With the wide midfielders functioning as well as last night, and with Cahills goal impact and incessant running, I still agree with Moyes that a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 is our best formation. 3-0 after the first half, remember?

Cahill is still very important to this side, perhaps even more with Neville out of action. To lead by example.

The impact of Bily was good and confident passing, good movement and of course great deliveries. Comparisons to Hinchcliffe are obvious, regarding deliveries.

Remember that we also have many goal threats at dead balls now - Yobo, Distin, Heitinga (when he is tried at right back), Feilaini, Cahill. And Pienaar, Baines and Rodwell can certainly strike the ball, giving us opportunities outside the box as well. As compared to Neville, Osman and Hibbert ...

I can see a lot of goals from free kicks and corners!
David Hallwood
21   Posted 18/09/2009 at 11:33:22

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Ciarán, Jo may or may not be a poor footballer, but give him time. he’s a stranger in a strange land, different language, culture, food and of course football, so he wouldn’t be the first player to have trouble settling in.

I remember Alan Hansen describing Drogba as ordinary and the weak link of Chelsea, and Bergkamp not up to the rigours of EPL. The player dosen’t have to be foreign; I remember ’experts’ saying that when Bentley moved to a ’BIg Club’ that he would be a world beater and at the time he was ahead of Beckham, Lennon & Wright-Phillips for the England RM spot, so did he flatter to deceive in a ’small’ club or is he having trouble settling in to a new club and he’s struggling for consistancy.

Football fans are notoriously fickle, and over the top opinions are the norm, on one site a poster called Fellaini the worst player he’d ever seen in an Everton shirt! He (if it is a he) obviously hesn’t seen that many games. Give him a season and then make the call.

Kevy Quinn
22   Posted 18/09/2009 at 12:22:12

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Playing football like last night scares me. If we keep playing like that Rodwell will be at the World Cup then I fear he will be gone. On a positve note agree with what most have said preformance/player wise. Although I think if Moysie works with Gosling on defence closely he could be a great right back.
Ciarán McGlone
23   Posted 18/09/2009 at 12:51:24

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’Ciarán Jo may or may not be a poor footballer, but give him time. he’s a stranger in a strange land, different language, culture, food and of course football’
-----------------------

He’s been nearly two years.
Phil Roberts
24   Posted 18/09/2009 at 12:55:32

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I can understand the comments about Cahill when we have no injuries, but last night I thought he was magnificent and his removal was part of the reason it was only 1 goal in the second half. I thought he actually bossed the midfield more than JR - TC was always there for the pass and making a lot more decisive passes that I thought he was capable of. Plus his ability to win the ball - often in the dangerous parts of the pitch made him the real thorn in the side for AEK. But in the role that he played last night - he is not the best in the club so when everyone is back........

As for "Billy" - Ken, you were obviously not sitting in the park end. The ball came over and we were a bit short handed but Billy was back and wellied it (with his left foot) over his right shoulder to the halfway line and immeditely felt his groin. He then ran back up field but was limping. A couple of minutes later he took a corner which was a pale shadow of that first one from which Yobo scored and then came off as clearly the groin was not good. I’m worried it may not be a 2 days rest and it will be OK injury.
Peter McHugh
25   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:17:51

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made up with playing people comfortable on the ball and who can pass last night. I don’t understand comments about Cahill, thought he really set the tempo and although I agree his passing was not the strongest, thought he had a good game. Just don’t get why people think selling him £6 - £7m would be good business. Sorry to be a damp squid, but I hate seeing Jo play for us, I think he’s an embarassment. I like to see brave players and don’t think he wants to know. By brave, I don’t mean just Joe Parkinson type, I also mean people like Piennar who will always demand the ball , have the courage to try things and have a go and try his best even when team / himself not playing well. I think Jo hides and I don’t see the skill, ability to hold ball up or shooting prowess others seem to see. Hope I’m wrong but to me he is totally useless. If I had to say something positive about him, he makes half decent runs off the ball - that’s it.


Alan Kirwin
26   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:27:14

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Phil, Cahill has been fantastic for us from the day he joined. On & off the pitch he’s a model professional.

But let’s get serious. If you regard Cahill’s performance last night as magnificent, when he neither scored nor made a goal, nor had a goal attempt as far as I can recall, got a risky booking for a needless chalenge on the halfway line, forcing his manageer to withdraw him for the second half, then fuck only knows what adjective you would use to describe the performances of Billy or Rodwell last night.

You need to temper your enthusiasm old son. Your half full glass is ejaculating very prematurely.
Jay Harris
27   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:03:01

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First game I’ve really enjoyed since Sigma but its really important to carry that confidence into Sunday which will be a different proposition.

Loved to see Big Wig and Rodders doing so well and actually looking for the ball thus avoiding hoofball.

I particularly wanted to mention Jo who has suffered quite a bit of stick when playing the lone ranger but I thought he showed what he can do with proper support and scored a goal which will be good for his confidence.

On Tim Cahill.... every team has a player that does not stand out to the crowd but is really important to the team. I believe the stats show we do much better when Cahill is playing rather than when he is not.

Lets enjoy a proper TEAM performance and not look to criticise individuals for once.
Dick Anderson
28   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:42:08

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It seems as though there’s a pecking order for players when it comes to fans complaining.

When the team underperforms its always the same players who are blamed no matter how they play themselves.

Tony Hibbert is clearly first in line, closely followed by Leon Osman and then Phil Neville.

Last night none of these players were involved from the start so Tim Cahill seems to have gotten the stick.

Guess that means Cahill is 4th in line.
Dave Wilson
29   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:47:15

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Nice try, Ciarán.

You know very well he hasn't been here nearly two years. he’s been trying to learn the language in a foriegn country, I think patience with this kid will be well rewarded.
Dave Wilson
30   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:53:02

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I take that back, I thought you were talking about Fellaini
Ciarán McGlone
31   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:54:56

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Dick Anderson,

It’s not a matter of whipping boys..it’s a simply matter of giving an honest and frank appraisal of the game.
Iain Love
32   Posted 18/09/2009 at 13:42:18

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We looked like a balanced team last night, the introduction of Bily on the left and Peanuts to the right with Dan behind him suited us. I sometimes wonder if Moyes is just jammy ? .He would never have played that team if Neville wasn’t injured and both Hibbo and Heitinga unavailable.

Bily had a hand in 3 goals and impressed with his instant passing. Peanuts was more involved on the right which suits me, Rodwell ! well i’ve never quite seen what everybody else raves about untill last night, maybe it’s because Neville wasn’t there and Jack felt he could / should take a more commanding role, and boy did he.

That 1st 20 or so minutes we looked the best i’ve seen for a while , you can say Athens where crap but was that because we made them look crap , and after that blitz they knew they couldn’t live with us. Then up pops Peanuts with a blinder to further hammer the nail into the coffin.

If we can replicate that tempo of passing and pressing in the league allied to hard work and team spirit we can beat ANYONE.

Gerry Western
33   Posted 18/09/2009 at 18:43:41

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Terrific display last night though I have to agree I doubt very much we would have seen that line up if Neville had been fit. Gosling I feel is not getting the credit he deserves. He really made an impact and was part of some great passing moves throughout the game. Its sad that some can’t find it within themselves to give the lad credit without going on to denigrate the opposition. If one is to take that approach then why not challenge the performances of everyone else in the team.

Once again Cahill is under the microscope for what reason god only knows. Personally I think he’s got to play just behind Jo. What was clear from last night was that when the recognized strikers are partnered there appears to be little or no understanding between them as their all committed to going for glory. When the three played together there was simply no cohesion in their play.

Bilyaletdinov reminded me of Hinchcliffe. The quality of his deliveries was superb. As I understand it, according to the stats we scored more goals that any other team in the EPL last term from crosses. With the addition of the Russian and Cahill up front we now have ability to really test the very best defences in the league. In my opinion Cahill is now more important than ever.

Without doubt the real difference was the combination of Fellaini and Rodwell in the middle. These two are ideally suited. Rodwell looked a totally different player alongside Fellaini and vice-versa. We can only hope Moyes will allow this partnership to flourish. Its very much in its infancy but the early signs are very promising.

Final note can’t quite see how Osman rates a 7. His performance was a long way short of that of his teammates and no better than his recent display at Craven Cottage. He was for me the one disappointment on the night.
Dennis Stevens
34   Posted 18/09/2009 at 19:35:31

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Excellent match report, as always, Ken. What a joy to watch an Everton team play the ball ’round on the floor & show that they can play a bit of football. Let’s hope Moyes can keep that going for the rest of the season!
Tim O'Connell
35   Posted 18/09/2009 at 21:09:01

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A total pleasure to watch — I wonder what Tony Marsh thought?Although we can’t get carried away I still think this was proof we can play fast, powerful attacking football.

Bily’s debut was a delight - the Sheeds comparatives are inevitable; for a longtime now I have thought Peanuts is in Tricky Trevor class and he showed it again. Jack looks total class; the Big Fella I thought looked great at his original position as a more holding midfield.

Danny G looks promising at right back and Bainsey was back to his best. Joseph looked to enjoy captaincy and looked imperious and Distin will become an icon - he definitely shows he likes the club and this will be very mutual.

Some people were uncertain about Jo but I thought his work rate and performnance was first class and I was pleased he was rewarded with a goal.

Tony Marsh in a previuos post said Moyesey had lost the dressing room — I don’t think so — just ask Sylvain! COYB

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