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There's Only One Tony Hibbo!

By Lee Kidd :  01/10/2009 :  Comments (24) :
In conditions best described as "treacherous", in almost the furthest region of Europe you can go before you hit Russia, against a side used to success domestically — who played and got results in the Champions League last term — and with no less than ten senior players missing, Everton have put in a performance that will impress those who can see past the unrecognisable name of BATE Borisov and see the result for what it was; a ballsy, gritty and determined victory in Europe.

When I looked at the teamsheet, I prayed for a point. Like everyone else, seeing Hibbert named at centre-half in the same side as Leon Osman was enough to make me want to switch off, watch The Simpsons for a few hours and check the result on the news the following morning!

I'm glad I didn't. Yes, we went one down to an absolute wonder strike. Yes, it didn't look like superglue could stick to Jo, whilst Yakubu looked like he hadn't broken into a sprint in a good six years. But given all that, I think we have just witnessed one of the best overall displays an Everton side has given in Europe in recent memory.

It's not hard to recall Bucharest. Even with a full strength squad, it isn't hard to fall pray to a hungry side wanting to make a name for themselves.

Everton avoided that pitfall brilliantly. Predictably, BATE faded in the second half and our quality shone.

A brilliant result, but what is worth pointing out is the performance of one Blue in particular.

Tony Hibbert, much maligned (and in some quarters, simply hated), put on a majestic performance at centre-half. He isn't our best player (he's probably one of our worst, in fairness, when he's playing at right back — his "natural" position!), but Everton needed some old-fashioned heart in defence tonight and Hibbo provided that superbly.

Some will criticise Everton for not blowing away BATE regardless of the side we put out. Those people don't understand football. When Juventus can only come away with a draw in Belarus, you know how hard it can be.

That was brilliant. Not brilliant football, but a brilliant overall performance. Under the circumstances, that's good enough.

Reader Comments

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Dick Anderson
1   Posted 01/10/2009 at 16:55:58

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My match ratings:

Tim Howard - 6
Didn't have alot to do and could do nothing about that thunderbolt goal. Decent kicking considering the awful conditions.

Dan Gosling - 6
Really looked like a weak spot in the first half but much improved in the second. Not an easy game for the youngster but he just about coped.

Tony Hibbert - 7
Was sure he would have a nightmare but in fairness was very good. Made some great tackles and the few times he did get into trouble he managed to bail himself out. Good work Hibbert.

Sylvain Distin - 7
Another faultless performance. Did well to help out Hibbert when he could. A real rock at the back.

Leighton Baines - 6
I felt his distribution was lacking today but that was probably down to the conditions. Was pretty solid at the back and did his job well enough.

Leon Osman - 6
Captain Osman did his best but didn't really make much impact on the game. Worked hard but couldn't impose himself on the game. Again conditions didn't help.

Marouane Fellaini - 8
I felt he was Everton's best player tonight. Made some great interceptions, particulary in the first half. Worked hard and his goal was well taken. Definately improving this season.

Tim Cahill - 6
Missed an absolute sitter in the first half and was missing for most of the game. Typical Cahill though came up with an important goal. Just wish he had the ability to run the midfield instead of just popping up with the occaisional goal.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov - 6
A game of two halfs for our new signing. In the first he looked great. Some nice touches and a great shot hitting the post. In the second he went missing. Seriously can anybody remember a single thing he did in the second half? This is probably why Moyes says he's not ready for Premiership games yet.

Yakubu - 5
Looked really out of shape. His movement is lumbered and his pace has not yet returned. Not his fault though, gonna take time to get back to fitness.

Jo - 5
Doesn't have Yakubu's excuse. Failed to hold the ball or cause any trouble for the opposition. A poor game from a player I find myself losing patience with. Must do better then this Jo. You're supposed to be a £19 million player.

Kieran Agard - 6
Didn't really do alot but showed plenty of energetic running. Shame we didn't see more of him.

Jose Baxter - N/A
Not enough time to do anything but waste some time while being brought on.

David Moyes - 7
Its a good result and Hibbert at Centre Back was a kind of masterstroke. Everton are maturing at European level and becoming comfortable beating sides.

Andy Wright
2   Posted 01/10/2009 at 23:59:14

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I think there’s one main reason that Gosling looked better in the second half and Billy went missing.

From what I could see, Moyes stuck Billy on the right to indirectly protect Gosling. They were pretty aware of his capabilities and that stopped their left back getting forward as much.

I like Gosling, but he looked out of his depth tonight. Jo was a disgrace, he should have been put down, his second half was appalling (sorry embarrassing) and the first half he just couldn’t hold onto the ball.

With so many players to come back we’re in good shape.

I know there’s been a lot of criticism over the football being played at the moment and there were a lot of predictable hoofs out the back tonight as well. But when your teams backs are against the wall and you come back from 1-0 down to win in torrential rain on the border of Russia... you have to be very proud and admit to loving it!!!
Aiden Doyle
3   Posted 02/10/2009 at 00:23:56

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Yep, fair play to Hibbo. I’m not a fan of his by any stretch of the imagination – I’m generally one of the people who’s glad that the club has outgrown players of his ability - but there’s no denying that he performed admirably tonight.
James Thomas
4   Posted 02/10/2009 at 01:18:51

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That was probably the worst match i’ve watched in over a year.

How we won it, I shall never know as in my opinion only one player played well tonight.


Seeing him at centre half in the line up made me incandescant with rage, screaming for Mustafi to come on as "anybody’s better than fucking hibbert."

I love being proved wrong when it comes to Everton and my god was I proved wrong tonight. No, I’m not saying Hibbert should ever start there again unless we find ourselves in similiarly dire straights but the boy was superb tonight. In many ways playing him at centre half accentuated his abilities and hid his inadequacies as he was allowed to run back and make crucial tackles without having everyone groan and get on his back when he hoofs it upfield or fails to beat the first man from a cross.

Howard - Nothing could be done to stop that goal - 7
Gosling - Exposed time and again as a RB - 4
Hibbert - M.O.T.M, see above post - 9 (That’s right 9, it will never happen again)
Distin - Error free - 7
Baines - Average defensively but a good cross for Felli - 7

Cahill - Wasted on the right wing, but managed to get two goal scoring opportunities and take one brilliantly - 7

Osman - Atrocious, should never be given that armband no matter who we’re playing - 3

Felli - Nice goal, otherwise quiet - 6

Billy - Couldn’t get the ball over the first man at dead balls rather worryingly and had to be replaced by Leighton who excelled at this - 5

Jo - Just plain awful, I wish Agard had come out for him in the second half - 3

Yak - Not yet fit? Not yet playing well but a nice run to win the f.k. which led to the equaliser - 5

Moyes - Very lucky that the team got back into it, should’ve blooded the youngsters earlier - 4

Fans - Astonishing number given the difficulties of going to the match. I particularly liked the "Russian Toffees" flag. Didn’t know you boys existed but nice see you there. 10
James Thomas
5   Posted 02/10/2009 at 01:30:09

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Apologies for the bizarre layout of the latter stages of my post.
Phil Bellis
6   Posted 02/10/2009 at 01:46:17

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For our younger readers:

A long, long, time ago... John Gidman (a full-back) played out of position in a Derby game and played his left bollock off...
Tonight. Tony Hibbert played both bollocks off...
Well done, a True-Blue performance

Ajay Gopal
7   Posted 02/10/2009 at 06:45:30

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To Dick Anderson:

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov: "Seriously can anybody remember a single thing he did in the second half?" Er, yes.. he flicked the ball on to Cahill for the winner.
Peter Griffin
8   Posted 02/10/2009 at 08:27:44

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I’ve slagged Hibbert in the past, but credit where credit is due, he done well tonight.

Fellaini played well, he won the ball in our half to set up the winner and never stopped closing people down.

Did Osman get taken off at HT? Abysmal, and to make it worse he had the armband on!

Good result, if not the performance to match it, but 3 points is 3 points!
Ciarán McGlone
9   Posted 02/10/2009 at 09:08:34

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Tony Hibbert eh!

The man mountain in centre half... It’s a pit that Tony wasn’t a few more inches off the ground, otherwise on that performance he’d be a legend centre half... and captain!

Maybe it’s been staring us in the eyes for years... Tony Hibbert — Excellent defender but suspect with the ball at his feet... While full backs are expected to use the ball on the wing in the modern game, centre-halves don’t really need to venture forward at all.

Well done Tony... some great passing out of defence as well.

As for the rest... well everybody made lots of mistakes — but it was a win under difficult circumstances with very limited playing staff...

Job done.
Steve Edwards
10   Posted 02/10/2009 at 09:31:52

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Tony Hibbert? No, it was the Jag in disguise. But seriously folks it makes you wonder dosn’t it. Is that where he should have been playing all his career? I know he isn’t the biggest but neither is the Jag. I can also think of one or two very accomplished centre backs who have lacked a few inches and still excelled in that position, Paul Parker for instance. Colin Tod wasn’t that big either, as long as they have a big dominant old fashioned center half next to them it can work fine. I always remember when Kevin Ratcliffe got himself into the Everton first team. Howard Kendal had him playing fullback for ages before the penny finally dropped and he was moved to the centre of the defence, the rest is history.

Tony like the Jag is very good at getting in the way of things. He reads the game well and tackles well. His problem has always been that when you get the ball in fullback position you are expected to do something constructive with it, alas that has been Tony’s downfall.
Tony Williams
11   Posted 02/10/2009 at 10:37:40

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Ciaran, I and others have been saying that for years now, People tend to judge Hibbert on his lack of skill going forward yet constantly refuse to accept his skill as a "Defender", how many wingers have changed wings, as they cannot get any change out of him? One example is the lady boy now at Madrid, he constantly was frustrated when playing against him.

Yes it’s a pity he can’t get forward well and get decent crosses in (yet again though, he has improved this season and was one of our better performer in our poor patch).

He is a limited player, great defender but poor going forward, last night just reaffirmed that, as he didn’t have to worry about getting down the line to support the attacks.
Steve Pugh
12   Posted 02/10/2009 at 10:32:54

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Before I start this is a serious post, but I accept that, even living in Norfolk, I will here derisory laughter on the wind.

Last night Tony Hibbert showed a side to his game that many people had forgotten about, his ability to tackle back. Now don’t for a minute think I want him to be our new centre half, he can’t head the ball well enough, but what about playing behind Distin and Yobo as an old fashioned sweeper.

Ok, have you stopped laughing now. Having a sweeper would allow the full backs to roam forward with a bit more freedom because Hibbo would be able to cover their mistakes, as he did several times last night. The centre backs give us our aerial cover again with Hibbo covering behind. We could then play three in midfield, and 2 up front. Something like this.

Howard GK
Hibbert SW
Yobo CB
Distin CB
Neill WB
Baines WB
Piennar CM
Rodwell CM
Bily CM
Saha ST
Yakubu ST

and then on the bench

Nash, Felli, Cahill, Jo, Heitinger

and with Jags and Mikky still to return.

I know its an old fashioned line up but something about it seems to work for me.
Kevin Gillen
13   Posted 02/10/2009 at 10:57:33

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The sound of munching humble pie above is the most satisfying aspect of last night’s victory. Tony Hibbert - take a bow son!
Danny Burke
14   Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:02:15

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I'm made up for Hibbert. Needless to say he has his critics on here (understatement!!) but last night he was at his brilliant battling best! Like Ciaran says, a few more inches on him and he could be a top centre half, the new Dave Watson. Well maybe not but still, he was immense last night.

Distin was also quality and seems like he has been here for years, a real rock.

Fellaini did well and took his goal well too, considering his hair must have been in his eyes!

Also AEK beat Benfica last night. Now either AEK are much better than the Goodison display or Benfica are a shadow of the team that played in the CL over the last few seasons. Either way, Bring em on!

Just a shame my 5 a side team didn’t play like Hibbert last night, a 9-2 hammering for us. Hangs head in shame......
Kiern Moran
15   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:17:56

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Wasn’t Tony Hibbert in David Moyes first ever team selection at the club? Is there not a case that he has built the team around him?
Norman Merrill
16   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:48:24

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I am not one of Tony Hibberts biggest fans, but give credit where its due, he played his heart out, and deserves what plaudits are handed out.

The conditions and the distance travelled, the result made the journey worthwhile for the fans. COYB.

John Nelson
17   Posted 02/10/2009 at 13:54:20

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Norman Merrill - I repeat exactly your comments mate. Hibbert was superb last night. Never put a foot wrong all night. Well done Tony.

Now for Osman... to be fair he actually looked like he was putting effort in — but last night proved he is not good enough for Everton. I hate to input negativity into last night, because overall I thought we were superb, but he was captain in his "favoured" centre midfield against weaker (by and large) opposition, and again he was our weakest link.

When we have a fully fit midfield, he should be nowhere fucking near the starting line up.

Otherwise... well done Blue Boys.

Ciarán McGlone
18   Posted 02/10/2009 at 15:57:40

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John... none of the midfield were at the races last night... they all made various mistakes at various time and all were guilty of poor play.

Criticise Osman all you want, but at least be balanced about it... Your suggestion that ’overall I thought we were superb’ Is pretty far from the reality.
Tom Edwards
19   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:02:48

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The plain and simple reason why Hibbo was so good was obvious. Any match he is supposed to be playing full-back is spent in the area of the pitch covered by the centre-half. They are usually having to cover the area he has wandered away from. He simply played last night where he usually plays!
Peter McHugh
20   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:02:03

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Tony Williams - I recall Ronaldo always dicking over Hibbert, just like when Robinho did him over last year at our place. Only time I saw somebody Ronaldo not getting change out of someone was Neville when he played RB and he put in a great tackle which the Mancs couldn’t hack and the course of that game and indeed our season kicked on from then.
Tony Williams
21   Posted 02/10/2009 at 17:23:54

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No problems Peter, you obviously have your views on him, I have mine.
Ray Said
22   Posted 02/10/2009 at 18:18:43

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Well played Hibbert! ’Manned up’ just when it was needed most. The lad has a lot of heart and can defend-as long as we limit him to tackling and kicking the ball away he does a good job.

Brian Clough used a lot players like Hibbert by limiting their team role to their strengths and then having their weaknesses covered by the player in front of them or alongside them. Pity Moyes doesn’t try that...

Tony Doran
23   Posted 02/10/2009 at 23:21:13

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Hibbo to replace Lesspot as England CH for world cup.
Steven Jones
24   Posted 03/10/2009 at 03:03:08

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Hibbo to play in holding role in front of the back four... could be used against Spurs when we have a run of three games in five days... could play the role that our old stallwart at Birmingham used to stand out in...

The Carling Cup and Europa league away at Benfica could be decent opportunities.

Even the Shite or Manure games coming up! ;-0

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