COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Another loss from a game we were well capable of winning... and, in the process, we handed Bolton their first home win of the season.
We used our last remaining 9 outfield senior players and Gosling was given a start to make a decent set of players but unfortunately not a team. We relied on the players out there to do a job and make light of the teams disjointed nature. For most of the match, we did this... as, man for man, I thought we were better than Bolton. However, the part of the team that looked our strongest on paper was the back four... yet it was from this department that the game was lost, maybe because they were not used to playing together; no-one took charge and basic errors ruled.
This problem at the back was evident from the start as the home team played balls into our box and how we were not 2 down in the first 5 mins as Bolton forwards missed 2 close range headers only they will know. We then started to dig in more and the initial hoofball was replaced by some joined-up stuff.
Jo showed he could be a threat by firing in a low shot that the keeper saved then headed just wide from a Gosling corner before hitting the top of the bar with what seemed like a deep far-post cross. Saha was looking sharper and more threatening than of late and just as I was thinking, "We could get something here..." our first aberration at the back occurred that cost a goal.
Their full back was in a race with Hibbert and he just put a blind ball in only to find our defence unprepared which gave the unmarked Bolton winger Lee all the time in the world to put ball to net. Again, we played some joined-up stuff and a good shout for a pen was turned down as Jo bore into the box only to be felled by Knight but the ref seemed to indicate Jo was looking for it.
Then, with only 25 mins gone, we were two down and this time the whole team were to blame as everyone got back to defend a free-kick from some 40 yards. The ball was in the air a long time and coming on to our players yet no-one seemed to attack it and the wrong Cahill glanced home.
2-0 down, schoolboy errors at the back... somehow, it was too easy to blame injuries and Benfica came to mind as, for a few minutes, the players looked shell-shocked before rousing themselves for their own pride and probably the sight of so many travelling fans suffering.
Just 5 or 6 mins after going two down, Neill put in one of the passes of the match that set Saha on his way; from some 25 yards out, he took it a few paces and unleashed a shot with such venom that it had hit the back of the net before any roar went up, surely a contender for ‘goal of the month’. We continued on the front foot until the half time whistle but without really creating much.
The half-time chat centred around injuries and questions the answers to which the club never seem to let out... probably with good cause, but many wondered just what is up with the likes of Yak, Bily, Yobo to name but a few.
Second half and we started like a team that had seen tea-cups thrown in the dressing room as we played with higher tempo and greater desire to get forward. This paid off just 10 mins in when, once again, Neill was the provider as he picked out Fellaini who startled us all by controlling first time, shimmying around the other Cahill, and firing home, causing great jubilation among players and fans alike.
We were on the up now and looked as though we could go on and win it. Bolton sensed this too and, with their manager yelling like a banshee, started tackling that bit harder... some of which either the ref didn’t see or chose to ignore.
We matched them and, with the wind seeming to get even stronger, so did we until, on 80 mins Heitinga limped off... yet I had seen nothing in the way of rough and tumble which gives the dreaded feeling ‘there’s another one with a strain or pull’ to join the ‘when will we see you again?" brigade...
Seamus Coleman came on to right back with Neill taking Heitinga’s place at the heart of the defence. This seemed to revitalize Bolton, who then started a bombardment of the box for Kevin Davies to cause havoc as only he can do.
He did indeed play a vital part in their winner when, with just 5 mins remaining, a long kick from the Bolton keeper sailed into our box. Neill and Davies jumped together and both seemed to miss it and the ball broke free; unfortunately, it was a white shirt that was in the second ball wide awake club and he slotted home unattended.
It was a gutting feeling as well as galling that in the end it was three schoolboy errors in defence that undid what was a good display from such a disjointed team that included a bench of outfield subs with the average age of 17.
Overall what can you say about a club that has more out injured than available to play, — except ‘Help!’ — and it could be a big cry of ‘Help’ if the Heitinga injury keeps him out as well as our Cahill limping off heavily at the end.
Tuesday nights team-sheet should hold some clues and the line-up for the Villa match will be worth waiting for.
Still the manager thinks the second half of the season will see us kick on but if we keep shipping injuries at the pace we are now then our only hope may be winning the ‘Euro millions’ in January!!
Chins up, See you soon
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 26/10/2009 at 14:12:58
Moyes is a tactical retard and out of his depth, 7½ years and we have won nothing — some of our performances are worse than the football under Walter Smith. Moyes always has an excuse, if he saw this coming like he states he did, then be proactive and bring the youngster through who may have some passion and will to win. if they are not good enough, get rid. Get rid of Jo as well... £18 million my arse.
None of Moyes's teams have pace, it's all one-speed, one-dimensional hoofball.
He is from a Championship club and very soon, with the help of Kenwright, we will be one.
2 Posted 26/10/2009 at 14:26:39
I watched on a dodgy internet link but I thought Neill played a decent enough game at right back, his distribution was good; Heitinga tried his best I think but as you say the back four are just not used to playing the roles they have been assigned as a group.
I thought we were going to take a point and that for me would have been a great result; however, when the out-of-his-depth Coleman came on, I feared the worst and was proved right.
I think come Tuesday night we won't have to worry about the Carling Cup this season and can concentrate on trying to patch up players for Saturday's must-win game at Gooison Park.
3 Posted 26/10/2009 at 15:07:35
Felt worse after yesterday than after the 5-0 mauling in Lisbon.
We’ve got to turn the corner quickly or it’s going to be a long hard season. What happened to the Yak yesterday?
4 Posted 26/10/2009 at 15:42:33
One thing those who say ’they’re all well-paid professionals, should be doing better’ either don’t realise or won’t admit is that they have to play together in a settled formation to act as a team. Injuries disrupt that. And yes, we could have been 3 down in half an hour. Tony Hibbert at left back and then look at the bench - we were stretched to the limit. But we got back into it until - guess what - an injury.
Spare a thought for Coleman - given an impossible job in Lisbon and brought on to be a seasoned PL RB yesterday. When Heitinga went down I wondered if Duffy might be coming on, but I suppose the fear of Davis prevented that.
Any positives? Two goals - both of them excellent. Neill looks ready for the fight (when match fit) and Gosling is going to be a good one. One pass from him and we might have won.
Never mind Arteta and Jagielka - they’re next transfer window, with any luck. Two players - Baines and Pienaar - would have made a hell of a difference at Bolton.
5 Posted 27/10/2009 at 08:20:48
Jo had a decent game by his standards - actually held the ball up well and created a few chances.
Without Baines and Pienaar, the left side was totally absent as an attacking threat - for a change, the new right side of Neill and Gosling did put in some decent crosses.
All 3 goals can be put down to our totally new Back 4.
The 3rd goal was really unlucky - Neill got his head to it, but it then bounced back off the back of Kevin Davies head and fell kindly to Klasnic. Just the sort of luck that we don’t need.
Fellaini, Jo, Saha, Cahill had good games. Rodwell and Gosling are at best 15 minute-subs, but are getting games due to the injuries - same for Jo.
Based on the that performance, Neill would be the 1st choice right-back, and if Yobo, Baines, Pienaar, Billy & the Yak come back, my 1st team would look like:
Neill, Yobo, Distin, Baines
Pienaar, Fellaini, Heitinga, Billy
Subs: Nash, Hibbo, Ossie, Yakubu, Jo, Rodwell, Gosling
(and this is not counting Jags, Arteta, Neville, etc still to come back from their long term injuries).
Really, we have had the most rotten luck with injuries recently, and we need to judge Moyes & the team, when we have a majority of the 1st teamers back.
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