COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Our first away points of the season, a clean sheet, a top class strike, strong bench and some slices of luck. All the ingredients for a successful season, I wonder?
Distin was predictably booed but not with that much venom and we started the first half on the front foot with Pienaar the creative artisan and Fellaini the box to box workhorse but Pompey having the unenviable record of six straight losses and the home crowd showing they were right behind them were intent of halting the defeats and had spirited forays forward catching out Heitinga on two early occasions but the resultant chances were without too much conviction.
On the other hand when we attacked the build up was better and our goal threat looked greater as a Pienaar cross was headed over by Cahill. Then Pompey had a great one touch passing move which unhinged our defence and it was with much relief when Howard made a great save. Stung by this the Blues hit back when Fellaini had a goal bound header turned away by James with an outstretched leg.
The game was going end to end and from a Pompey break just before the break Heitinga hit a long diagonal ball from the half-way line into their box with Saha challenging with a Pompey centre back, the ball broke between them and Saha was on it in a flash took one touch and shot before the onrushing James could reach him and he planted a corker into the net, delight all around and the Pompey bell was silenced.
Half time, one up, had we learned the lessons of Fulham? Well it seemed so as we started the second half looking composed and comfortable — well for five minutes anyway; Pompey got a free kick which was whipped into the far post and Ben-Haim with a powerful free header seemed to hit Howard and rebound wide for a corner.
On the hour mark we received another sickening injury blow when Pienaar was barged into and went down, after treatment he limped back on again but almost immediately he just sat down and had to be stretchered off, it didn’t look to good at all which is maddening for Blues fans as he has been quite outstanding of late and the Ref didn’t even see it as a foul. Bilyaletdinov came on and he was quickly caught with a very high boot that the Ref did not penalise luckily his only problem seemed to be a ripped shirt which he was pointing out to the Ref. We attacked when we could and with Bilyaletdinov’s crosses causing trouble Fellaini had a header tipped over and Cahill a header cleared from the line.
We then seemed to get deeper and deeper and Pompey sensed the could get something, Moyes took off Osman and put Hibbert to right back where Heitinga hadn’t been the best defensively and tried him in mid-field with Cahill moving to the Osman role. If this was to shore us up a bit and see out the game then it only just worked as before the end Pompey hit the bar Howard made a great block and Baines cleared from the goal-line then the manager made his last sub on 90mins when Jo replaced Saha in a run down the clock procedure. 5 mins of added time went up and many a Blue bum twitched... we saw it out, 3 points for us and 7 straight losses for Pompey.
Overall I thought it was one of those games that if both teams had taken their chances we may have won 6-5 but it was a game that needed a bit of magic to score and we had the man in Saha to achieve that.
Considering that even this early in the season this had become a must win game for the hosts it was never going to be easy and given that we are still finding our feet I was generally pleased with our performance. I think we are still a work in progress but I saw enough to suggest that a good season can be had and as the player integration makes us into a more cohesive unit we will be better placed when the fixtures pit us against the better teams. Saha will probably get MotM for his game winning classy strike yet I thought that Fellaini was outstanding in a box to box role and did good work at both ends of the pitch and also showed an excellent engine.
Next it’s the trip to BATE in the Europa league and I fancy a few changes will be made for that one in readiness for the Stoke game which seems sure to involve a good physical battle and won’t be easy. Wins in both games and no more injuries will do me as we go into the two week break.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 27/09/2009 at 09:08:49
I just hope, hope, hope that Peanuts is ok. And I’d like to see Neill get a go.
2 Posted 27/09/2009 at 09:38:16
Either you and others are happy with this drivel and dour hoofball tactics under Moyes or you just have poor standards.
3 Posted 27/09/2009 at 09:42:12
We were up against a team really fired up and who kept up a high pressure game for 90 minutes. We played well in patches, particualrly in the first half, but lost the plot in the latter part of the second. As usual we were much stronger down the left than the right.
The positives — Saha and his goal; a generally solid defence, with Howard excellent; Pienaar until his injury; and yes, Fellaini, whose all-round game was excellent until he faded in the last 15 minutes.
The negatives — Rodwell had his poorest game this season and was too often caught in possession; Osman was anonymous on the flanks again; Heitinga was given the run around in parts of the first half.
One thing that few people have noted is that the pressure was really turned up after Pienaar went off — we just didn’t cope as well and had less creative threat.
On our new (foreign) signings, people think that they can just step into the pace of the Premier League. Neither played particularly well yesterday, but let’s give it a few months before we make definitive judgements.
4 Posted 27/09/2009 at 09:46:18
This was always going to be a tough physical encounter. Rodwell was disappointing by his own standards but he’s very young and as I’ve said on another thread we do perhaps expect too much from him.
In fairness, we were extremely lucky to come away with a result but you're always going to get games like this during the course of a season and the important thing is that you win them. Let's hope we move on and learn from it.
5 Posted 27/09/2009 at 09:59:24
6 Posted 27/09/2009 at 09:42:05
Saha: 7, Another day, another classy strike.
Cahill: 6, Apart from a couple of headers, was largely anonymous for me.
Fellaini: 7, had a terrific match. He was the only one winning headers for us in the middle of the park. If he had some more skillful players around him, his flick-ons could have resulted in more possession, if not more goals.
Rodwell: 5, a poor match by his recent high standards. Just did not seem to be intent on taking the ball forward. Moyes would be wise to give him a short break (1-2 games max) to allow him to see what happens around him in the centre of the pitch.
Osman: 5, another poor performance from the right wing. Probably, Gosling would be a better option in that position. Is Moyes the only person not to realise that Osman is only effective in the centre of the midfield?
Pienaar: 6, somehow he seemed to be playing below par even before his injury, but was still our most creative outlet in attack. Gave away a needless foul, which resulted in the best chance that Pompey had. Still, waiting with bated breath on the report of his injury.
Heitinga: 6, the jury is still out. Got caught defensively a couple of occasions, but his raking diagonal ball resulted in the only goal. He seems to be schooled defensively in the "play it out of danger" rather than "smack it out of danger" model that we are used to seeing under Moyes, so it would be wise to wait some time before passing judgement.
Yobo: 8, a solid defensive performance.
Distin: 7, was unfazed by the booing and looked as solid as Lescott was last season.
Baines: 7, neat, tidy, hard-working on the left flank, but nothing spectacular today.
Howard: 8, my MotM, some fantastic saves. 4th clean sheet in a row.
I am relieved at the 3 points, but also very worried about the Pienaar injury and the slight niggle that Saha seemed to have picked up at the end of the match. Also worried by the seeming inability of Moyes to change things around, when we are under the cosh.
Next game, BATE away, so maybe an opportunity to rest some sore and tired limbs.
Back in the Top 10, so well done Blues!!
7 Posted 27/09/2009 at 10:51:13
Portsmouth played well and their supporters made life difficult for us. We looked sharp at times and devoid of ideas at others but we did enough to get the points and that's what we needed.
MotM has to be Tim Howard by miles.
8 Posted 27/09/2009 at 11:00:29
However, to look at Pompey’s position and personnel would be to only look at half the story. They are playing without pressure as the general assumption is that they will be relegated and they are playing with a lot of spirit in order to prove people wrong. It should also be noted that they've been very unlucky in previous games, against Villa for instance and even against Arsenal at the Emirates, where they missed some massive chances and were unfortunate not to be playing against 10 men after a Gallas last minute foul.
I think Chris you are wrong to assume that we should run the show because Pompey are a poorer team. I wasn't happy with the performance either but going away from home is never easy in the Premier League, whoever the opponent, as Manchester United and Chelsea will testify this season.
Every team has bad days, which we clearly had; however, to win on those days, in whatever fashion, is/has been the mark of a successful team and despite the performance, we’ve now won four on the bounce. Getting past the mental block of a first away win in the prem will prove hugely important.
9 Posted 27/09/2009 at 11:26:07
I’d like to see Osman moved inside where his quick feet and low center of gravity would be more effective, because as we all know, he isn’t a wide player.
10 Posted 27/09/2009 at 12:04:56
I think we all share your frustration. However, you do need to be a bit more objective. Generally speaking, the vast majority of opinions on Fellaini’s performance range between average to good to excellent. Somehow you’ve concluded he was a "waste of space". Paul rightly states that you really need to see past your own prejudice with respect to the player.
In relation to overall team performance, we played some good football first half and Fellaini was pretty much running the show during that period. Second half, Fellaini began to tire and we lost Pienaar and it is fair to say we resorted to hoofball.
But for me Rodwell was poor by his standards and Fellaini had to work very hard to compensate for that. Rodwell's a young lad who’s been outstanding this term so he’s going to have days like this. However, you’ve made no allowance for that — sometimes one needs to try and see the bigger picture.
11 Posted 27/09/2009 at 11:46:12
I'm very worried about Heitinga. I saw him play for Holland against England in the recent friendly. James Milner, who you don’t normally see going past people, had no problem going past him, gave him a right roasting.
From yesterday's display, I don’t think he is any improvement on Tony Hibbert and I’m beginning to wonder what we will do with him. Don’t forget Athletico Madrid let him go after only twelve months. Yes I know it is early days but still, I just can’t believe he is Holland's first-choice right back, he hasn’t even got a bit of pace about him.
Like others on here I’m also very worried about Pienaar suffering a long-term injury. All the signs are that it seems highly likely. He has been such an influential player for us since Arteta was injured that he will be badly missed.
I have started to wonder what is happening on the training ground for so many players to be picking up this sort of injury, surely it can’t just be bad luck. In all my time following Everton, I can’t remember this similar type of injury happening to so many players. Arteta, Jags, Neville, Anichebe and now probably Pienaar. What's going on?
12 Posted 27/09/2009 at 12:23:05
I agree with you that we were poor against Pompey. Second half we could have thrown an extra forward on to try and grab a second and make it safe. Unfortunately, Moyes just isn't proactive. He reacts to how the game pans out rather than try to dictate it’s pattern.
13 Posted 27/09/2009 at 12:49:45
14 Posted 27/09/2009 at 13:05:03
But in the case of Neville and Anichebe, I am sure nothing could have prevented it. Yak did his achilles, so that leaves two genuine knee ligament injuries.
In any case, I doubt anybody on here can really answer the question regarding how the club trains with respect to injury prevention...
15 Posted 27/09/2009 at 13:26:54
16 Posted 27/09/2009 at 14:20:37
Performances were poor overall and I thought our Flying Dutchman didn't exactly fly. For me, he was our poorest player.
17 Posted 27/09/2009 at 14:51:45
I don’t think we were quite as bad as some make out. We played some good football at times and were ourselves unlucky not to score two or three.
After an over-hit cross by Baines, an excellent piece of work from Osman (which has gone uncredited here) saw him turn a defender inside-out and then plant the ball right on Fellaini’s nut and had me screaming "Goal!" as he headed it down and on goal, only to see James keep it out with his left boot. WD to James and unlucky Blues! Then in the second half Timmy Cahill had one cleared off the line too.
There are no easy games in the Prem, especially away from home. Look at Burnley, they’ve lost consecutive away games 2, 3, 4 and now 5 nil on the bounce but opened their season with a home win over the title holders and last season’s Champions League beaten finalists.
Four wins on the bound, 12 for, none against. Crap isn’t it?!
18 Posted 27/09/2009 at 15:36:10
19 Posted 27/09/2009 at 15:54:41
And those under-hit passes... very frustrating. It’s all part of his slow pace to the game... I have the same complaint about Jô; sadly, it all contributes to (or is the reason for) our very limited pace going forward. Which, of course, is another great reason to hoof it upfield!
20 Posted 27/09/2009 at 16:11:04
With respect to Fellaini, I dont think he played poorly against pompey, tbh I thought Rodwell looked very poor, but games like that are inevitable at his age. But with Fellaini, his touch, speed and passing consistency has always been a concern, although he has had some fantastic games for us, I think that part of the game will always let him down.
21 Posted 27/09/2009 at 16:19:49
The ’referee’ obviously thought these plucky lads deserved a win at last. He let them get away with persistent fouling, usually from behind as they had been beaten for skill, without the four or five cards they should have been awarded.
How such a piss-poor team as us managed to win 6 corners and get about 7 or 8 shots on target beggars belief. Perhaps the match officials can do very little about this.
And if we are supposed to be a hoofball team now, let’s see much more, like Heitinga’s superb delivery up to Saha, who knows what to do with a quality pass.
22 Posted 27/09/2009 at 16:32:19
The normally crisp passing of Rodwell was also lacking on several occasions, which I concluded may be due to the cut of the grass at Fratton Park.
The slickness and "zip" of Goodison was certainly missing, leading to plenty of under-hit passes.
Maybe the Pompey staff witnessed our recent home displays (and at the manicured KC Stadium) and decided to let the grass grow?
23 Posted 27/09/2009 at 16:52:01
I agree he's an incredibly frustrating player, I can see that he has a bit about him, but he just does not seem interested most of the time. Like I say, the amount of times he gave away or almost gave away possession yesterday was far far too often for my liking. After all, isn't that what Hibbo (The White Cafu) and Osman get so much shit for? Fellaini makes a lot of players around him look bad at times, as he plays lazy passes that jeopardise his team-mates and makes them struggle.
I’m hoping that he does it for us (and gets the hair cut), but me and the lads I watch with are just not seeing the controlling displays from this midfield dynamo, that a number of people on here rave about...
24 Posted 27/09/2009 at 18:44:13
Of course it will appear churlish after four wins to be critical but I believe we are a mediocre side totally devoid of guile and pace. The team selection is consistently negative as are the tactics.
Good sides can win when playing poorly; sometimes, so can average ones.
25 Posted 27/09/2009 at 19:32:31
We can be thankful for the the defensive performances of Yobo, Distin & above all Howard for saving the win yesterday. It seems to me Moyes has still got plenty of work to do, despite the improved performances in our previous three matches — although not in the Premier League, of course.
I also didn’t think Osman was all that poor & didn’t deserve to be singled out for criticism, but would like to see him in the centre where he could be much more influential.
26 Posted 27/09/2009 at 21:54:27
David James stopped Marouane Fellaini from scoring with an outstretched boot. That’s what he’s supposed to do. It's not astrophysics, it's football.
Anyone who thinks the Big Fella’s hair is worthy of mention compromises their right to assess him as a footballer, in my opinion.
27 Posted 28/09/2009 at 02:47:37
I watched the Portsmouth game on TV here. I am afraid I agree with Chris Perry for most of what he says that Everton were poor. I don't think the cliche that it's always hard in the Premier League to win away from home can be applied in this context.
The problem is simple, at the moment our tactics and personnel are not geared to retain possession, we simply give it away far too much. By doing this we simply handed the initiative back to Portsmouth and allowed them to take the game by the scruff of the neck. In the end, they deserved at least a point.
I have seen Everton a lot on TV in recent years here and the pattern is always the same. Get 1-0 up and then hang on; I agree with Chris, it's not pretty to watch. I would prefer to see us push on from positions like this and go for the jugular — something you see the Top Four do so well.
I am not saying we have the same resources but we do have some good players in albeit an understrength squad and I am sick of us playing such a one-dimensional game away from home.
28 Posted 28/09/2009 at 02:57:08
I was impressed with their fans (although the bell ringer needs seeing to) and with the commitment and attitude of their players. I don’t condone the challenge on Peanuts but yes, they gave us a hard time and so they should have done.
They reminded me of us a few years ago when we couldn’t buy a goal at the start of the season and then Gary Ablett popped up to score the winner against West Ham at Goodison. I had the clipping for the Echo pinned up on the kitchen wall for some time and that’s how desperate they are for a win.
Of course we want Everton to win every game 5-0 and this was perceived by some as a ’gimme’ but the reality of the Premier League doesn’t bear this out. This game was a huge potential banana skin and the next team to go to Fratton Park, be it Hull or Man Utd, will not be looking forward to the game.
For what it’s worth, my wife was extremely concerned at the performance of Heitinga and she thinks the Big Fella should get a hair cut! Sorry, Keith, but any wife who insists her son turns over from watching NCIS to see Everton play deserves her opinion to be aired!
My own opinion on the underhit passes is that we were under pressure for a lot of the game but if my U-16 players had hit so many ’hospital’ passes, I would have dragged them off the pitch. It really made me very nervous.
29 Posted 28/09/2009 at 03:11:49
30 Posted 28/09/2009 at 09:28:23
However, yesterday I thought he was outstanding. The save in the first half from Dindane was excellent, the ball seemed to be past him, but his best save was the one that Sky claimed ’just hit him’. If you watch the replay you will see him stick his shoulder out to deflect the ball. Top drawer.
More of the same please Tim and maybe, just maybe I can stop longing for Big Nev or Marytn to come out of retirement!!!
31 Posted 28/09/2009 at 13:04:59
I watched replays of Tottenham and the shite and neither played particularly well in the first part of either of their games against inferior competition but they keep up an attacking stance and the goals come. We on the other hand do the opposite from a goal up and just scraped through.
As for Fellaini, I totally agree with Alex. I thought he was dire and he screws up so many attacking moves with his poor passes. No doubt he’s got talent but if ever there was a player who needs a rocket up his arse it’s this guy.
32 Posted 28/09/2009 at 17:17:59
33 Posted 28/09/2009 at 20:52:28
I've followed Everton since early 80s but I have never been a fan of kick and rush and stuff like that. What frustrates me most is the fact that Everton is still playing a very hectic and confused brand of football. I mean this team should be able to play a relaxed and clean football against likes of Pompey.
Yeah sure, they have fought hard but who cares, a lot of teams play hard against Barcelona and they still find a way to dominate if you know what I mean. I really think there is not much talent around in Everton.
It's hard to admit but I watch West Ham who are residing at the end of the table and you see a certain system behind their game, they try to keep the ball on the ground, play a clean one-touch football but I don't see all that happening in Everton.
I simply don't see the signature of the coach on this team unless the current confused style is what he wants to see. I don't know if I am too harsh but its unfortunately the way I feel about this team right now.
Fellaini? Give me a break. A complete waste of time and roster spot. This guy is one-paced, absolutely not interested in what he is doing, not even trying to give everything and he constantly gets his own teammates into trouble because of his real bad passes.
I always feel like the guy passes the ball just to give it away, to transfer the responsibility to someone else but not in order to make something useful happen. It's a shame that a team like Everton has to stick with the likes of Fellaini just because we don't have anyone to replace him.
Hibbert is another player that actually would have a hard time making the starting 11 in a better Championship squad let alone a Premier League side. He is all about security because he knows about his inabilities. Useless security passes to the guy next to him. That's it.
You can not involve him in a real powerfull offensive game plan where people have to display confidence and the ability to make things happen on their own. What do we have from him passing the ball to the guy behind him just because he knows he would lose the ball trying to get past the opponent in front of him?
Yobo? He is good, a physically good player but not a good last man in a team that intends to play a controlled game from behind. He very often just kicks the ball away where he actually could relax, look and play a nice clean pass to the side or to an unmarked midfielder. He is a typcial marker, he could cover a striker but right now he adds to the confusion on the field by constantly kicking the ball away into the opponents half without an aim and target.
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