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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From My Seat: Man Utd (H)

By Ken Buckley :  20/02/2010 :  Comments (45) :

Oh what a day... delirium abounded from all quarters of north Liverpool post match as the mighty Blues (as the match day announcer would have it) flattened the Sky darlings by 3 goals to 1 in a pulsating game that was contested between two teams in good form. AFter 95 mins of football of high standard, the Blues fully deserved the points. No fluke — just better than the Mancunians on the day.

The line-up reflected the players available and the manager did a good job in how he lined them up to meet a hefty challenge. From the off, Utd looked to have settled better and, but for a positive run from Osman, we were on the back-foot. After only 15mins, Baines showed his lack of defensive nous as Valencia passed him with ease and put in a low cross that Distin failed to cut out for Berbatov to fire home via the underside of the bar.

The away fans were in full voice and you did wonder whether we could make a game of it. Well within four minutes we got the answer, Neville pumped one forward that Saha just about got contact and the ball fell to Bilyaletdinov who changed feet and from some 20 yards hit a ferocious shot inside the near post that left the keeper motionless, his celebration was of such low key that you wondered if he really knew he had scored; however, the faithful soon roared their approval and Bily looked happy.

We were now getting to grips with things and our brand of football was on a par with potential Euro and domestic Champions so much so that within minutes from a Baines cross Bilyaletdinov profited from a Saha step-over but lashed his shot wildly over when he should have done better. Donovan was the next guilty man when from a Baines cross the ball hit Brown and he did not react quickly enough to capitalize.

The game continued in great fashion with both teams attacking well and defending well in equal measure with Osman at the hub of all the Blues good work. Rooney was relatively quiet such was the display of Heitinga but he needed careful watching and this proved the case just before the break when he burst forward, rounded Howard but Neville was back in to shepherd his rather heavy touch over the line for a goal kick.

Half-time and it was a pity it came as the Blues were getting the measure of Utd with Osman probing and coaxing and Heitinga in charge of anything threatening at the back. We wondered if the break may allow Utd to regroup and punish the two missed chances of that first half.

The second half started as though the ‘hairdryer’ had been out and Utd pressed and Fletcher exchanging passes with Rooney flashed one wide and despite the excellent work of Osman who was here there and everywhere in attempting to keep us going it was Berbatov who had the next chance but he glanced wide after a good run from Rooney had produced the cross and chance. Then the Blues started to respond to the non-stop work from Osman and both Pienaar and Arteta were again looking like the players we know they are plus some very assured centre-back play from Heitinga and we were outplaying the would be champions so much so that Sir Alex blinked first and made a double substitution after the hour mark when Obertan and Scholes replaced Berbatov and Park.

Little changed and we still enjoyed the upper hand and it was good to watch our midfield outplay theirs when for so many previous matches it has been the reverse. The manager seemed in tune with the fans when he rested Bilyaletdinov who, despite the strike of strikes, was not looking the most likely, and brought on Gosling.

As it turned out, this was to be a masterstroke as he had only been on the field 6 mins when a good piece of play down our left saw Donovan play a pass toward the by-line that Pienaar was onto in a flash leaving whoever was marking him to the mercy of his manager and played a ball low across the box that Saha and his marker seemed to miss but the wide awake Gosling was on hand to slot home and send the whole ground into raptures and silence the foul mouthed chanting of scouse stereotypic ditties from our loveable guests.

Fifteen minutes to go, 2-1 up, how would we handle it? Well, pretty well really. As you might expect, Utd pressed and we did get a little deep but with great reading of situations from Heitinga and the ever willingness of Osman to get the ball and keep it until he saw the safe pass we had just one real scare when the Ref Mr Webb gave a foul against Arteta for very little and booked him in the process and Rooney fired the resultant kick mighty close.

Two minutes to go now and the manager takes off Pienaar to a great ovation and introduces the Utd target (if you believe such things), Jack Rodwell. Another masterstroke as it would turn out. The ever improving Arteta showed composure to get on the ball in the 90th min and feed Rodwell in the centre circle, he looked up and advanced, the Utd defence stayed off him so he drove into the area, two touches and a shot despatched at ground level across the keeper nestled into the corner of the net.

Pandemonium broke out. The players swamped the scorer, the scorer whipped off his shirt and got booked joyfully, fans hugged kissed and cheered. It was all over and all assembled knew it.

In the final minutes added, the faithful regaled the ever emptying away end with chants of ‘who are yer?’ 'Rooney, Rooney, what’s the score?' and others that I won’t sully your ears with. Final whistle and just pure unadulterated joy both on the park and in the stands. Never has ‘It’s a grand old team’ been sung with such gusto three times. Never have the players milked the occasion for so long and never has the majority of the faithful stayed so long.

It was just great being there and for once I was delighted the Sky wizards would have to come up with something off planet to deny that the best team won and their darlings lost.

MotM for me Osman, the best midfield player from either side, very closely followed by Heitinga who was imperious at the back. Arteta looked to be getting better and more confident by the minute. Pienaar and Donovan gave the work rate and balance to aid Osman and Arteta in winning the mid field and that’s no mean feat against Utd.

In fact good displays all round including the goal scoring subs. That leaves Bilyaletdinov, a super strike, some delightful close foot work yet this fan is left bewildered exactly what to make of him, I think I will leave that one to the manager and hope he does a Fellaini.

Scalps against Man City, Chelsea and now Utd plus an almost v Arsenal leaves me thinking the manager's most pressing job is to gain that sort of consistency from his charges across a season. They can do it, they have shown it against the best now the trick is make me happy and show it against the rest.

Donovan is now a fans favourite but we lose him in the middle of March. I just wonder if the USA may think it prudent to leave him in the premiership and be that much sharper for their World Cup bid. Probably fanciful thinking--- but---

Sporting away on Thursday. Mr Moyes please play in the vein of Chelsea and Utd tactics, you beat them and they are two of the favourites for the Euro top crown so Sporting should not be given the respect and hesitancy of the first leg. In fact, if you have to, tell your players its Chelsea or Utd we are playing not Sporting and get them to act accordingly. That should do it!.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Dermot Ryan
1   Posted 20/02/2010 at 22:36:43

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Great report ken. Glad to hear the team and the crowd enjoyed their moment after the final whistle. Inspired substitutions. To score your first premier goal at home against Manure. Sweet. We beat a top 4 team that was in-form and really wanted to win. This was even better than our (unlucky) draw against Arsenal (who were missing Fabregas). This was the real deal. We totally deserved to win. And there was great linked up play. Osman had a great game. I feel like he has been generally really strong since coming back from injury. Not so, I’m afraid, with Neville. Sorry, but I still think he is too slow and his crossing too poor. Long term, we need a replacement right back. I guess he hustled Rooney off the ball well. Like you, I feel Bily is an enigma. An amazing strike, but most of the time he seems either tired or disengaged. Hope he gets into things more next season. And I hope he isn’t having huge adjustment issues or can’t or doesn’t want to adapt to English game. Want him to do well because I think he has a great touch and vision at times.
Keith Glazzard
2   Posted 20/02/2010 at 23:15:23

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Osman - what a day. Where he should play, with a good team around him. Ken, it just shows you what can be done.

The brother has already promoted Heitinga to the status of ’folk hero’. A few more like today and he becomes eligible for higher than that. What a very good player he is becoming for us. And I’ll bet he likes it just as much as we do.

And is Landon Donovan really going to go back to the third division in March having just been part - and a very good part - of the defeat of ManU and Chels? I hope not. And just watch him go on Thursday, having had a look at them now.

However you celebrate Ken, you have to pull out the stops for this one. Another dry sherry?
Keith Glazzard
3   Posted 20/02/2010 at 23:26:30

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ps - Ken, I am very confident that Bily will do a Felli. He hasn’t had a break for 14 months. He’s getting used to the PL now, and, more importantly, our players are getting used to him. He is Duncan McKenzie restored to us.

I predict great things.
Harvey Miller
4   Posted 20/02/2010 at 23:31:06

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Yeah, Ossie played well today. Heitinga is also essential now but I dont trust Distin , his first touch is not good enough. Jags is coming so I would gamble it by putting two relatively small CB:s in the middle. Yobo is always a possibility.
Ian Smitham
5   Posted 20/02/2010 at 23:57:44

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Ken, thanks for the report.

I was there and saw the game in much the same way.

Maybe i am sad, but a highlight for me is reading your reports, just wondering if we need to establish some service standards, like you need to file the report within, say 6 hours of the game ending. FFS joke.

Also pleased to note the tone of this report as i felt a little feeling you were disillusioned at the last couple.

Top man Ken and thanks again for the good work.

Ian
James Flynn
6   Posted 20/02/2010 at 23:38:07

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A great team win. No excuses. ManU came to play and played well. They just got outplayed by the better team, which Everton has been for some weeks now. Like to look ahead, not back, but losing to a LP team we should have whipped easy still hurts. We should be at 41 points and looking to overtake Arsenal, never mind 4th place. (Sorry. Had to get that out of my system).

Anyway, happy to have come on board as a Everton fan when I did (Donovan signing with the club). We are certainly talented all over the pitch and it appears to me opponents have to fear the Blues going forward anytime. We just have to maintain the attitude that we can and will go forward ALL THE TIME. That’s what the top teams do in any sport and we’re looking the tops to me.

Would like to mention Osman from what I’ve seen the last few games. I’ve read him being jumped on for lackadaisical play. Maybe he was before. But since I’ve been watching, he’s been a major factor from mid-field forward.

Finally, as an American wanting our country’s best player to do well in the world’s toughest professional league, I thought Donovan played his part in keeping the mid-field under general Toffee control. While being switched from right to left against one of the top sides anywhere. Also as an American, delighted with how the Everton folk have made him feel welcome.

Top 4 is right there to be had. Unless someone knows of a team playing better than Everton. The confidence grows. No complacency!! As we say in America, Everton is in "Playoff mode". Every game is a must-win game.

Up the Blues
Gerry Quinn
7   Posted 21/02/2010 at 00:44:01

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As always, the plaudits are worthy, Ken. I trawl the web for match reports, and they are all abysmally biased in favour of the Sky Whores. Your reports, from an Evertonians point of view, are refreshing and the wee snatches of this and that with the crowd, etc., take me back 30, 40 years — it’s as if I was still there. Please keep going for us, Ken, great to see.

I watched the match live on ESPN here in Houston — I do believe that it was the first time I hadn’t watched any of the match from behind my couch!

So here’s a good one, Ken....any chance of you watching a live match on TV and writing about it. I bet you it would amuse a few of us more than you think.

Thanks again - love being a BLUE

Graham McCann
8   Posted 21/02/2010 at 01:01:18

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Great report, Ken; keep it up, mate.
Martin Mason
9   Posted 21/02/2010 at 02:27:23

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I watched on the TV in Malaysia and make no bones about it this was a great performance with United reduced to a shadow of their normal selves by a superior Everton team. Just a couple of points from what I saw. Everton are an undoubtedly far better balanced side without Tim Cahill and secondly Osman is a very good player regardless of some of the criticism aimed at him. We will miss Landon Donovan too, he gives so many options. You could argue that Everton are a far better side without Fellaini too but I do rate him very highly. Excellent midfield play yesterday with the peerless Pienaar, the unfit Arteta, the one-foot one paced Bily and the useless Osman.
Peter Barry
10   Posted 21/02/2010 at 04:15:53

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I watched it here in Bali with a few Beer Bintangs from an afternoon sesh inside me. I usually get nervous when the game is tight but never had to worry at all last night. Roll on Lisbon COYB.
Andy Paolacci
11   Posted 21/02/2010 at 05:15:11

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I agree, Harvey. Distin doesn’t fill me with a heap of confidence, but his block on Obertan in the 2nd half was world class as far as I’m concerned.

His presence & strength in the air is a real asset, but I for 1 am looking forward to a Heitinga/Jags partnership in the centre of defence.
Ron Marr
12   Posted 21/02/2010 at 07:15:20

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Ken, great job as always.

I’d like to see Billy when he’s rested after a summer break. At this point he seems to have two speeds, slow and effing slow. He reminds me of McFadden without the cojones. One crunching tackle from Barry Ferguson in the first couple of minutes of the Brum game and he disappeared. Still, great goal today. Here’s hoping ...
Tony Cheek
13   Posted 21/02/2010 at 07:50:07

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Yes, great write Ken. Really good to see Osman coming good at last after all the slating he has had, but he has to do it week-in and week-out, thats what a good player is about.

Great performance it was but still room for improvement. Crosses still not good enough and we must make more out of free kicks round the box... but WTF, we just played United off the park... lovely!

Richard Dodd
14   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:14:23

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’Keep the faith’ was my constant plea throughout the dark days of autumn. How that has been rewarded!

ps: Whither Mr Marsh? He can’t be enjoying this run of form, can he?

Terry McLavey
15   Posted 21/02/2010 at 10:12:16

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Good balanced article as usual. First on Match of the Day again, l could get used to this!! Maybe one day we’ll be selected by the producer to be first on our own merits instead of who we are playing!

l get sick and tired of hearing when we win against the "big" teams, it’s them playing badly rather than us playing well! l went into work after the Chelsea match and the wife of my ex-manager who is covered in Chelsea tatoos (the manager not the wife! l think he has them to remind him how to spell it!) said "did Chelsea play a weak side?"

And as for Ferguson saying they were tired because of the mid-week match! Of course we didn’t have one, oh wait a minute, YES WE DID! lt’s their job FFS! They get paid more in a week then l get in years! l wonder if they would do what they do for £7.03 an hour! It’s like me going into work on Wednesday and not doing my job properly because l worked on fucking Monday!!

Anyway will stop now otherwise could spark off another Grimsby Town rant (which was brilliant by the way! l printed it out!) At least we have some great moments to remember this somewhat patchy season by! COYB

Tom Fearon
16   Posted 21/02/2010 at 11:53:02

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Another good and well balanced report.
We have done very well recently against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man U, but we performed poorly against Liverpool. Our good performances were in games where the opposition played football. We failed, and we will fail,when we are kicked off the park. We have midfield players of great skill, and that was shown yesterday. But they are not equipped for games where physical brutality is required. Unfortunately we will come up against a number of sides which will try to erase our skill with brute force.
David Hallwood
17   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:04:59

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Great report Ken, as ever, and speaking about MotD, I thought Hansen’s summing up, when he said that this wasn’t a giant killing act, was pretty accurate.

How frustrating has this season been? MotM? I’d opt for Donovan, but it could’ve been anybody, special mention for Heitinga, yet another DM purchase that got a goose slagging on TW when he first came, now he’s the first on the teamsheet.

And spot on with Arteta, I though he started to look like his old self at or around the 70-minute mark.

Jamie Barlow
18   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:24:40

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I know its off subject and i don’t know if anyone has said it before. Did anyone else see Travis Bickle in the crowd on Saturday. He is on Rodwell's right when he jumps into the crowd. Look for the glasses and the Mohican. Classic.
Kevin Gillen
19   Posted 21/02/2010 at 12:43:11

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Just one thing for the record Ken. We won this game three-one despite being denied two clear penalties in the first half. The ref saw and bottled the push by Rooney on Heitinga and missed the second one, Wes Brown's handball, when Donovan shoulda scored anyway.

How five blues and no reds got booked was a travesty too, Valencia and Neville should have gone in the book too.

We overtook them as a side yesterday. We beat Chelsea 2-1 and missed a pen and should have beaten Arsenal. Keep them balanced reports coming Ken but don’t let up on the refs until we start getting a fair deal from them.

Martin Mason
20   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:56:33

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Peter, I spent 5 great years working in Jakarta with many weekend outings down to Bali. I run an Engineering Company called Bintang Engineering now. It was a tough choice between Bintang and Tiger.
Peter Lee
21   Posted 21/02/2010 at 13:33:59

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Great report, keep them coming.

One or two comments about other posts.

We know that Phil Neville rarely crosses well. The comparison with his brother was obvious yesterday. Gary knows how it’s done.

The upturn in our fortunes coincided with Phil Neville’s return to the side at about the same time as Steven Pienaar. Landon Donovan has made a massive difference too. It would be difficult to decide who was the more influential. Pienaar is different class but Neville really is the captain we need on the pitch. I can’t see anyone else to do the job.

Until there is someone we must find a place for him, although that could be in front of the back four this season if we really want pace down the flank with Seamus Coleman. Good though I rate him can anyone else see him running Wayne Rooney off the ball as Neville did?

Centre backs? Heitinga and Jagielka? Not enough height, suicide to try. We would find it difficult to clear dead ball kicks and we would find ourselves under sustained pressure.

IF we ever get into the Champions League Fellaini and Heitinga sitting in front of ther back four would be the business away from home. Odd though. Having bemoaned our luck with injuries and poor form now we’ve got the problem of trying to second guess the manager when he has 25 decenytplayers to pick from and a variety of ways to deploy them.

Better balance without Tim Cahill? Can’t see how anyone can say that. The team was set up in a particular way yesterday to play without Cahill. If he had been fit it would have been set up differently and if people play well the balance is there. With Cahill playing there would have been far more pressure on the two centre backs and Saha would have got a great deal more room. The midfield would adjust accordingly.

Let’s not get too get too carried away with yesterday, but balance is not just a right/left thing. It’s also front to back. We didn’t get that right at times and the gaps between the back 4 and midfield, presumably to give some depth against a run from Rooney, gave him plenty of space to work in and turn. People criticised him in the press but United decided to play very wide against our usually narrow defence and left little support for him when he filled that space.

Billy? He isn’t fit and the point about 14 months of football is well made. He has great skill and crosses a great ball when given the chance. He has got to be prepared to drive on and into tackles like he means it and be prepared to take the inevitable raps across the ankles. Common sense might say that with a full midfield sqaud we could give him some R&R but I think Moyes is right to play him when he can. He’s got to understand the challenge of the PL and then make his mind up before pre-season whether or not he’s going to get stuck in or move on.

Osman; what’s he taken. I’ve always rated his skill and positional sense and we all remember Joe Cole’s comments about when they were together as kids but I despaired of him ever being robust enough to make the grade as a first choice. Peter Reid he isn’t in that department but he is light years further on than he was this time last year. He is a much more influential player in the middle of the park as is Pienaar, as is Arteta, as is Fellaini.

What happens when they are all fit? Can’t wait to find out.
Dave Wilson
22   Posted 21/02/2010 at 14:32:58

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Made up you gave MotM to Osman, Ken, richly deserved.

That's three sensational performances against Arsenal Chelsea and Man U — not bad for a "Championship player" or someone who "goes missing against top teams".

Leon’s suffered dogs abuse on these pages, perhaps the people who didn't quite grasp that he sacrificed his own game for the team when playing out of position will now see what a smashing little player he really is.
Andy Crooks
23   Posted 21/02/2010 at 16:46:02

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Well said, Dave Wilson. I thought Leon was superb yesterday.
Kevin Hudson
24   Posted 21/02/2010 at 17:39:59

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Not sure if it’s been mentioned,but I thought it was a masterstroke by DM to swap Bily & Donovan’s postions over.

Don’t think Sir Alex expected that,and Neville & Evra suffered as a result !!
Gerry Western
25   Posted 21/02/2010 at 18:03:16

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A good report Ken though my MotM would have gone to Donovan, closely followed by Hetinga. Probably Osman’s best performance ever in a Blue shirt, largely because he managed to sustain a good performance for 90 minutes. My concern though now is that some people are getting carried away in a wave of euphoria after yesterdays result.

To be honest, I always believed the Mancs were there for the taking with both Vidic and Ferdinand absent at the back. To describe Osman’s recent performances as sensational is way over the top. For Osman to justify his inclusion in the starting eleven he’d need to play like he did yesterday a lot more often - sadly his performance yesterday was more the exception than the rule.

Some are even suggesting we played better because of Cahill’s absence. Sorry, but if Cahill had played against Evans and Brown we’d have been out of sight by half time. Piennar had a decent game yesterday but for me I’d much prefer to him alongside Arteta with Cahill restored behind Saha.

I’d like to think we were capable of knocking it around and able to play a passing game but as we’ve seen recently when we’re faced with a physical battle some are up for it and some are not. I think we may well face much more challenging tests in the coming weeks. Let’s hope we continue to play as we are. I’m afraid I still need some convincing.

Dave Wilson
26   Posted 21/02/2010 at 18:15:42

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Gerry

Try watching ALL the games lad, not just the glamour games. Osman got MOM awards against Chelsea and Arsenal because he was sensational, he was also terrific against Sporting.

Try not to be so churlish and give praise when ts due rather than sticking to a long held cockeyed belief.

People bang on about having the right to critisise a player on this site, fair enough as long as its an honest assesment and it WORKS BOTH WAYS. Anyone who say Ossie wasn't terrific in these games either didn't watch them or can't bring themselves to admit they were wrong.

I think you’ll find the clowns who called Ossie a Championship player were the ones going "right over the top".

Justify his inclusion in the starting eleven? what utter bollocks, in his current form he’ll be the first name on the sheet.
Wilson Tan
27   Posted 21/02/2010 at 18:31:02

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Super strike by Billy. When you look at the replay in slow mo, he’s definitely well aware of what he is doing and that’s a great football brain. Shame that he doesn’t seem to be able to last the pace and is only a 60mins player at best. I think we should be able to see a much improved Billy next season.
Gerry Western
28   Posted 21/02/2010 at 20:55:56

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Dave, you appear to have cherry picked a few recent games and then tell me I should watch more games, something of a contradiction in that don’t you think.

As for honest assessment, for the record Dave I posted comments on his performance in both the Arsenal and Chelsea games in which I stated he’d played well and that his game had improved. However, I did say his performance faded in both games as they progressed due to the fact that he lacked stamina. Hence the reason for my comments on yesterday’s game.

As for MotM awards in these games perhaps you need to practice what you preach with regard to honest assessment. From my seat at the Arsenal game everyone around me was debating whether or not it should be given to Cahill or Fellaini don’t recall a single mention of Osman by anyone. As for the Chelsea game, opinions on here seamed to be divided between Cahill and Saha. Still they do say football is a game of opinions.

I’d be happy to take your advice Dave if you could be a little bit more objective - try going back to a game before Chelsea, a derby I believe. Once again an adjective beginning with ’s’ could be used to describe his performance; however, this one ends in ’t’. Now I’m beginning to understand your aversion to glamour ties.

Finally Dave, I’ll say it again, Osman’s performance’s have improved and yesterdays for me was probably his best ever in my opinion I’m sorry if that is lacking superlatives. However to describe his performances at the Emirates and against Chelsea as ’sensational’ is a huge exaggeration. You really do need to get a sense of perspective.

Stephen Ryan
29   Posted 21/02/2010 at 22:22:07

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Dave Wilson, for 6 years Osman has been anonymous against the top 4 teams and has generally been inconsistent, FACT.

When I used to watch him in the Youth Cup winning team with Hibbert and Dunne, I raved about his technical ability to my mates and predicted he would play for England. Sadly, two career-threatening injuries and a lack of pace and physical attributes have hindered his development.

In the last half dozen games, however (mainly against class opposition), I have seen a huge step-change in his performances and his display against United was sensational, reminiscent of his youth team displays. In the past, against the top 4 teams, he would panic when in possession and would go missing for long spells.

On Saturday, not only was he putting his foot on the ball but he was also lifting his head, looking for options, gliding past men, spraying the ball about and tackling like a man possessed. Maybe it's a confidence thing but if he can maintain that level of consistency he will be just as important as Arteta and Pienaar.

Martin Mason
30   Posted 22/02/2010 at 00:16:19

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Peter Lee, how many times is it that we’ve beat Man United 3-1 with Timmy balancing the team? Results speak for themselves for me and one may be that even Fellaini the destroyer doesn’t make for eye pleasing displays like Saturday’s.
Dave Wilson
31   Posted 22/02/2010 at 05:46:32

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Gerry

I didn't cherry pick the games, I merely chose the teams people like you have accused Osman of not being able to perform against. I was at the Emirates and even Arsenal fans were raving about him for his domination, besides his stunning — another superlative — goal, he chased back in the closing stages to break down Arsenals attack and play a super — another one — pass to Cahill who released Pienaar to score... not bad for someone fading.

MotM awards are usually in the eye of the beholder, but if you doubt Ossie's claims in ALL of these games then I suggest you look at Ken's, Paul's and Lyndon's reports for these games, they saw the games too. I don't think I heard anyone suggest he wasnt the best player on the pitch against Chelsea... except maybe you.

Ossie has missed most of the season; that our football has improved beyond measure since his return is no coincidence.

Every player in a blue shirt stunk at Anfield, that you chose to single Ossie out says just about everything.

Stephen Ryan: Accepted, Ossie has been hugely anonomous against the big teams, for years and boy have we panned him for it, but that allegation can be made against most of our players. Somehow we have found a belief and EVERY player should be given the praise they deserve. Instead of making churlish comments about a player who is making a mug of them, the Ossie-bashers should be praying he continues to do so.

"Justify his place in the team" ... fuck me!
Ciarán McGlone
32   Posted 22/02/2010 at 11:07:34

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Dave,

It appears you didn’t watch the Arsenal game.
Al Marples
33   Posted 22/02/2010 at 10:33:58

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A couple of thoughts from Saturday:

(1) When we pass it around well (and I thought our midfield was excellent at times v ManU) it really shows up how wasteful Phil Neville’s long balls are.

When we play hoofball, he doesn’t stick out so much, its just another lousy pass, but when you’ve got 2 of Bily/Arteta/Osman/Pienaar/Donovan within 20m of you, knocking it around like a well-oiled machine, why the fuck would you thump it 45m to our lone targetman, Saha? (who, for the record, I thought did a fantastic job with his back to goal, turning a lot of mediocre passes into good attacking posession).

PN gets a lot of plaudits, I don’t doubt he’s an excellent motivator/organiser and of course an experienced defender, just please tell him not to thump it away so woefully DM — just stay in our half Phil!!

(2) to what extent is Donovan the catalyst for the massive improvement (and consistency) in our passing game? Is he helping to bring the best out of Ossie?

We’ve played very good football at times in previous seasons (single-handedly driven by Arteta or Pienaar IMHO, but we were soon knocked off it) now we seem tantalisingly close to being a genuine PASSING team after all these years!! Just hope our confidence with the ball on the deck doesn’t disappear across the Atlantic in a few weeks time...

Dave Wilson
34   Posted 22/02/2010 at 12:22:05

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Why?
Ciarán McGlone
35   Posted 22/02/2010 at 14:18:14

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Haha...

Was expecting more than that!

You clearly did...I simply think levelling that accusation at others is a tad unfair...

What I remember of the Arsenal game is Fellaini being head and shoulders above everyone else and Osman losing a lot of possession.

He played a blinder on Saturday, no doubting that... however, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been mostly poor in the matches he’s played this season...

If you expect other’s to be objective then you really need to apply that standard yourself. Again, this takes nothing away from Saturday.
Dave Wilson
36   Posted 22/02/2010 at 14:51:18

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The only thing unfair here is the people who Ossie is making look complete mugs — people like you, coming on here week after week conveniently forgetting his magnificent previous performances and coming out with nonsense like "its about time too".

I remember debating this with you after the Arsenal game and pointing to the fact that not only did he initiate our second goal, he scored a cracker at the Emirates.

The people who do the reports on this site were also raving about him to — just checked back, Ken called him superb — but you churlishly refused to give due credit.

Face facts, since you said Ossie and Neville should never be near let the first team again — do you remember that? Ossie has come back from injury and gone from strength to strength.

Ignore the games against Sporting and Chelsea, when many people thought Ossie was MotM, deny his super performance at the Emirates, it's a free country... but by clinging to an ill-judged opinion and not judging people on a game-by-game basis, you are making yourself look rather silly.

Ciarán McGlone
37   Posted 22/02/2010 at 15:47:05

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I didn’t ’churlishly’ refuse to give credit....I simply don’t have a hard on for him - like you do...

If he has a good match I’ll give him credit, if he has a bad one - i’ll say so...I won’t use a bad match as a big stick to beat those who previously said he peformed well..which is the converse of what you are doing.

I don’t play the numbers game either...on that basis the Sun is the best paper in the UK....

Ossie has been crap for most of the season...He’s been better recently...

I don’t see how anyone can have a problem with that analysis.

Dave Wilson
38   Posted 22/02/2010 at 16:01:43

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He's been injured for much of the season. How the fuck can he have been crap? And when he was injured, I told you we would improve when he returned, and the improvement has been dramatic — cue a million excuses for that. He's been roundly applauded for the games he has played since he came back — by all but the clueless.

You're are just being churlish because he's made you look a mug. Either that or you wouldn't know a decent player if he ran over you.
Dave Wilson
39   Posted 22/02/2010 at 16:13:17

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Oh and BTW, that stick you speak about, I think you’ll find you made that yourself. Tto say somebody has a bad game is one thing, there's nothing wrong with that. But when you declare a player isn't good enough for the first team and shouldn't be let anywhere near it is another, you invite people to beat you with your own stick every time said player has a good game.

The only defence left open to you is to bury your head in the sand and churlishly deny superb performances.

Ask Gerry.
Nick Lewis
40   Posted 22/02/2010 at 17:39:09

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I’ve always been a fan of Ossie; his velvety touch, two footed-ness, ability to create space and sublime passing skills are, surely, why we all pay to watch this sport.

Yes, he has weaknesses; a little lacking in pace, a little, well, little, and too easily brushed aside by your bigger grocks in today’s more athletic game. I tend to think those weaknesses were only ever so apparent as a result of his utterly laudable refusal to play an easy out hoof up to a frontman; he’s always looked to play football, even when the team weren’t performing so well, and consequently he was prone to being caught in possession on occasion.

Anyway it’s nice he’s finally receiving some recognition nationwide.

Go on youself Ossie la!

Alan Kirwin
41   Posted 22/02/2010 at 18:34:05

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Top report Ken.

I am absolutely delighted for Leon Osman. This boy has always had the ingredients, clever feet, football brain, excellent passer, good shot with either foot, good engine. He has occasionally veered towards being lightweight and bullied out, but seems to have found an extra level of aggression and confidence.

He was Man of the Match in almost every paper, including al the broadsheets (I read them all online). Moyes was effusive about him, and Ken quite rightly picked him out. On 5 live this lunchtime they were discussing candidates for the World Cup squad and Osman was up for serious discussion.

He has had poor games, as indeed have others including Arteta from time to time. But he’s never deserved the attacks he’s had on here. At least Mr McGlone shows his head on here (albeit stubbornly confrontational as usual), but Tony Marsh strangely quiet. Hmm, why’s that do we think?

Also delighted for Heitinga, who I also felt would be a great catch for us but, like almost ANY player, he needs to settle in. He is fantastic & goves us something we haven't had for a long time — an excellent defender who can pass the fucking ball. I remember the slatings that Johnny H got in his first few games and remarked on how pathetic it was.

I remain angry about our start to the season. David Moyes cannot escape blame for the pathetic way we started the season. Last season was identical. It’s infuriating & unnecessary.

If we beat Spurs on Sunday (and that’s a big ask with just 2 days rest) then it must be game on for a Euro spot. I suspect if we lose in Europe the disappointment will carry through to the league. So here’s hoping for an easy win in Lisbon. Two early goals should do it, then bring on the reserves. :))

Expect to see us go at Spurs, even with a 4-3-3 like...

Howard
Neville Heitinga Distin Baines
Osman Arteta Rodwell
Bily Saha Pienaar

Anyone know if Galatasaray beat Ath Madrid then Heitinga becomes eligible for Europa?
Gerry Western
42   Posted 22/02/2010 at 19:00:59

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Dave what has happened to your self-proclaimed honesty? And why do you continue to contradict yourself?

You claim to have cited those 3 games because people like me use these games to criticise Osman but you’ve omitted to comment on the recent game against the other member of the quartet. How convenient... I wonder why?

Might it be because he was the worst player on the park by a country mile? Oh I forgot, others played badly so you see no need to single Ozzy out for criticism. However, following a great result on Saturday when just about every pundit has praised a wonderful team effort in which every player played their part, you’ve singled Osman out for praise... something of a contradiction there. Sorry Dave, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, no more limp excuses, it’s make your mind up time.

Equally, a balanced assessment would surely extend to all his performances against the Sky 4 — not just the recent performances. Cherry-picking again I think... still they do say old habits die hard.

Incidentally, Dave, my criticisms of Osman in the past haven’t been limited to his performances against the Sky 4 but have also extended to those teams in the lower reaches who adopt a physical approach — you appear to have steered clear of those I wonder why?

I’ll continue to offer praise and criticism when it’s warranted... unlike you, Dave, I don’t see the game through rose-tinted specs. As you’ve kindly offered me advice, allow me to return the favour. Your posts would be more credible if you could try to be objective and avoid the need to sensationalize.

Dave Wilson
43   Posted 22/02/2010 at 19:13:11

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Gerry

You're sounding kinda sad now, mate. I didn't single out Ossie for praise, the whole of the footballing community is doing that — read the papers, lad, listen to the news, check out the websites.

United and Chelsea have been the best back-to-back performances for nearly thirty years at this club and Ossie has been universally acclaimed as the star amongst stars.

As for the Anfield game, Neville was slaughtered, so too was Howard and Cahill, but nowhere did I hear one single person single Ossie out... until you now. Do you see what's happening here? All those good games he’s had since he returned from injury, but you want to focus on the one bad one

I don't see the game through rose-coloured glasses Gerry, I’m a moaning fucker, but I would hate to think I couldn't enjoy a super run of results by Everton because of my inability to give credit to the star of the show.

Enjoy your misery mate, but if you don't mind I’ll continue to enjoy and praise Ossie's super form for as long as it lasts.

Gerry Western
44   Posted 22/02/2010 at 21:33:36

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Dave you’ve disappointed me now. How can someone as observant as you have missed the fact that he was substituted? Good job you did though, or you might have thought Moyes had taken him off in order to give him the opportunity to milk the applause of the fans.
Ciarán McGlone
45   Posted 23/02/2010 at 12:14:22

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Dave,

I’ll tell you what’s churlish...whenever I suggest that Osman has been terrible for most of the season - you not having the grace to acknowledge this doesn’t include time when he was out injured..

And, maybe you should check your facts...He’s played more than he’s missed this season.

The suggestion that we have better players than Leon Osman and that he should be a bench player from now on - is not an opinion that either he, you or anybody else for that matter - can make a mug out of...

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