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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Wolves (H)

By Ken Buckley :  21/08/2010 :  Comments (31) :
A game of two halves saw almost 38,000 leave disappointed at the end as the Blues failed to see out a game that really should have been there for the taking.

First home game of the season and everyone up for it. The ground bedecked with black and white images of times gone by to the present that would have pleased ?Dr Everton? no end. One small or maybe greater moan I heard was for the picture depicting Barmby but, hey, he is part of our history. The walk to the ground was full of anticipation and snatches of conversation on receiving the text message from the club with today?s line up suggested a wholesome win considering the wealth of talent available to the manager.

Football is never quite like that but in the first half the display put on suggested nothing more than a home win as the Blues dominated with the midfield being neat and tidy if not over forceful except for Cahill who was a menace and a danger to Wolves at all times.

In that first half Bilyaletdinov had three good chances to open our account but his normal deadly finish was missing as he contrived to take to much time and his finish on each occasion was wayward. Heitinga ever eager to push on put in a superb 25 yarder that the keeper tipped over with some agility and aplomb. Just when I was thinking a goal may never come and with just 2mins to half time Arteta wormed his way into the box and was upended. "Penalty!" yelled the faithful but the ref, Mr Mason, ruled the offence was on the edge of the box, most present saw it as 2 yards inside but only the ref?s view mattered.

The argument was rendered irrelevant as Arteta?s free kick hit the wall and the outstanding Cahill was first to pounce and with an adroit turn hammered the ball into the roof of the net. Pandemonium and relief rang out in equal measure. The Blues saw out the half in professional manner by stroking the ball about across the back and midfield awaiting the H/T whistle.

The conversation at the break was of some satisfaction although most agreed the score line should have been more but the expectation was for more to come.

The second half started with the Blues in control but looking a little unsure whether to stick or twist and ultimately doing neither. There was a feeling of not wanting to take up the offer of a second goal more than one of protecting what we had and from that point Wolves upped their game certainly in a physical sense and the Ref. let a lot go which annoyed both sets of fans in equal measure.

Without looking dominant we were managing to stay strong and but for the inexperience of Beckford we could well have put the game to bed when a quick counter attack saw Beckford stride on goal accompanied by a great support run from Heitinga. Beckford took the wrong option and tried to beat his man and was robbed with ease which left Heitinga flailing his arms high as the simple ball to him left him one-on-one with the keeper, chance gone and on the 70 min mark our manager made the first change.

Saha for Beckford and what a disaster that turned out to be as just 2 mins after coming on the Blues attacked in force but King Louis made a mess of it and got caught in possession when he shouldn?t and Wolves broke and just three touches of the ball saw our out of position rearguard left helpless as Doyle fed Blake who had the simple task of side footing home to leave the ground as silent as the grave. The manager gave it a further ten minutes before bringing on Fellaini for Heitinga and Osman for Bilyaletdinov but the best we could muster until final whistle was a header from Saha that landed on top of the net.

Another frustrating day for Blues fans and the walk back from the ground was rather sombre. Overall I thought the hype of ?Best squad for years? is weighing heavy on the players as most of the game contained disjointed football, some hoofball, some joined up stuff but none of it the confident mode that makes a statement or puts the fear of god into the opposition. Arteta given the captains armband was neat and tidy but without ever dictating or being a mid-field force. Pienaar did plenty of running without an end product and Beckford looked well short of a Premiership striker to me.

All over the pitch I expected better from players who in the past have shone but these last two games seemed no more than adequate. For me our plusses were Cahill who played like Cahill and was a constant threat and would have been even better with more support. Heitinga and Hibbert both had games you would expect to be the norm at this level but the rest were in my view lacking in application and desire with perhaps Distin being the best of that bunch.

Titles have been won from such a position as we are in and I hope we can achieve that but I don?t quite know what it is but after our first two games I get this feeling that there is something missing, something not quite right and I have not a clue what it is so over to you Mr Manager, sort it and bring a smile to our faces. Villa away and Man Utd at home should be a fair test of getting the team and tactics right. Go to it Moyesie.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Kevin Hudson
1   Posted 21/08/2010 at 23:50:26

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Spot-on report, Ken, and I agree on Beckford. Looked a little lost out there, and I was begging for him to be joined, rather than replaced, by Saha.

Bily also a worry. Occasional wonder goals just not enough for me.

Overall,we just haven't clicked yet.
Derek Thomas
2   Posted 21/08/2010 at 23:51:25

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Nice one Ken, essentially the same report as MK's but with none of the ditherer Davie angst. Not that I don't think along the same lines at times.

As you say, Villa and United to come, on this form if we have 5 pts from 4 games at the end of it we will have done well.

The results will come or not as they do, but dispite some peoples thoughts on the matter, it is how you do it as well.

Football is a business as we all know but we forget sometimes that is part of the entertainment business and in the end isn't that why we go?

It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it, be it playing the game or reporting the game.

Mark it well, Dithering Davie: one game two games, we don't have infinite patience and nor should you ? kick some Finch Farm ass!
Dick Fearon
3   Posted 22/08/2010 at 00:00:27

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So Moyes was 'disappointed' with our 2nd half display... why he can't be honest with the fans and call it for what it was? Fucking diabolical.
Larry Boner
4   Posted 22/08/2010 at 00:35:23

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1. We ended up with the same team we put out against Blackburn (apart from Neville).
2. Why split up the strongest part of the side ? Baines/Pienaar?
3. Hibbert's overlapping was good, put in the clear approx 6 times, not one decent cross.
4. Saha and Bilyaletdinov only seem to play on the periphery, never get involved in general play.
5. Why is Rodwell not included?
6. Why does Howard stay on his line? One ball in the second half was all his, never moved, forcing Jagielka into clearance.
7. Beckford willing, but not in the same class as Kevin Doyle.
8. Bily will never make it as a wide player.
Brendan O'Doherty
5   Posted 22/08/2010 at 01:49:33

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Balanced report Ken.

Good to hear that you thought that TC was "outstanding."

The clue to the answer to the "something not quite right" problem that you mention is in the phrase itself. I would say it's up to the Chairman to fix that particular problem, especially as it has come to light that we could not afford to get Bellamy on loan.

Dick (#3) - he can hardly say that to the media.
Tim Brashar
6   Posted 22/08/2010 at 04:34:00

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Ken, I think you make a really good point about the players struggling to handle the weight of expectation this season.

It feels like we are extremely tentative and nervous out there and fear is holding us back from playing anywhere near our much hyped potential.
Ajay Gopal
7   Posted 22/08/2010 at 06:40:05

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The game was not televised here, so I have to go by Ken & Michael's reports. The conclusion I draw is that both games so far were a result of bad team selection.

For the world of me, I cannot imagine why Rodwell is on the bench, after he had such a fine pre-season and a MotM performance for the U21s. The comment that one of the TV commentators made all those years ago when Rooney was benched after a precocious display (against Arsenal, I think) still rings in my ears: "Moyes must be mad to keep Rooney on the bench".

Moyes must really look at himself now:

Why has no striker really prospered under Moyes?
Why do the players look so unsure of themselves?
This was a season where everything seemed to have gone well ? no injured players, all key players tied to long-term contracts, good pre-season, etc. Where did it all go wrong?
Why have other teams hit the ground running, and Everton still seem to be in the pre-season mood?

I was foolish enough to think that we would challenge for the title this year! Looking at our own performances and then looking at the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Man Utd, etc, I realise that we are a billion miles away. Moyes, you have run out of excuses now. Take the hard decisions for which you are paid!

Huddersfield: Mucha; Coleman, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Gueye, Rodwell, Fellaini, Arteta, Pienaar; Vaughan.

Matt Traynor
8   Posted 22/08/2010 at 05:33:13

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Tim (#6), I don't know why the players would feel that pressure. We've seen how they can play when they really want to ?- and supposedly we have a better squad. I just don't think they play with freedom, but more with fear ? and that's nothing to do with the crowd.

We've always applauded them win, lose or draw, as long as we could see the effort. Unless the crowd dynamic has changed since I moved away, what has?
Michael Evans
9   Posted 22/08/2010 at 10:14:31

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Who dares ... wins;

Who craps himself... has the smell of fear.

Jon Cox
10   Posted 22/08/2010 at 10:56:21

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Ajay, that looks a great side for midweek.

Vaughan will be chomping at the bit as well after seeing the Beckford contribution.
Charles King
11   Posted 22/08/2010 at 10:58:17

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Just watched DM's post match interview from SKY sports and I know he's never carried much weight, but the poor man looks bewildered and ill, worrying.

Chris Jones
12   Posted 22/08/2010 at 11:32:09

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There's no disputing it, in terms of players this IS the best squad we've had for years, but unfortunately we still have the same achilles heels as we've always had under DM:

We're slow starters - this has been a constant under Moyes and cost us Europe last year;
We don't have a striker who can be the focal point of the team;
We get bullied by mugs like Wolves (who were shite by the way;
We lack the pace to break quickly;
We have a manager who is too loyal to certain players.

I'm not too despondent yet but the recent performances of the likes of Billy and Saha worry me. No point having a top midfield without a real threat up top.

Football is all about confidence - if we can turn over Huddersfield we can hopefully get our zip and tempo back.
Joseph Strumm
13   Posted 22/08/2010 at 11:33:15

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Larry#4,spot on mate,seen it the same as you,just add that too many of the players looked to be going through the motions,our play was far too slow and predictable,our lack of pace is frightening,FFS can we please get a pacy winger,i never seen one decent cross yesterday,as of last season our opponents know that if they press us we will hoof,very disappointed with the midfield not showing to take the ball from Distin or Jagielka,verdict-DOLLOP
Chris Halliday
14   Posted 22/08/2010 at 11:42:17

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didn't enjoy the game at all, first half was ok, but we never bossed the game for long enough periods to dominate as we should against this type of opposition.

lacked creativity at times, with Beckford playing on the fringes.

crossing was poor [hibbert & arteta],
and too many players going through the motions, we need strong players to take the inicitive to win games and too much hoofball from the back.

I would have coleman playing in these games to give us some running and crossing ablilty out wide and put peanuts back with baines!!

maybe a blessing that we will be the underdogs in the next 2 games, might suit us better at the moment?
Franny Porter
15   Posted 22/08/2010 at 12:09:38

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Ill tell you what worries me, whether you prefer the team that started against Blackburn, the team that started against Wolves or a different line up all together, it seems that DM cant answer this conundrum himself.

The fact we made four changes, although one enforced seems a bit drastic for only the second game of the season.

Last week against Blackburn Moyes should have been putting out what he thought is his strongest /best team. it was the first game of the season, we had no injuries, and we had been through what seemed a decent pre-season.

Now I know we got beat, but should Moyes not be thinking that he needs to get his 'stongest' team performing better, rather than making four fucking changes.

I suppose you can say 'your damned if you do, damned if you dont' and he had to make these changes, but in my eyes, he needs to pick a fucking team and system and stick to it.

Two games into the season and DM does not have a clue what his team sheet should be reading. Such a lack of confidence is going to spread to the players.

One final rant, why is Saha not interested anymore?
Alan Kirwin
16   Posted 22/08/2010 at 11:50:12

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OK, 2 games in and one finds oneself not only where one didnt want to be, but also where one did not (confidently, for the first time in many years) expect to be.

There seems to be an unarguable strain within the combined DNA of Moyes & EFC that creates not only doubt or uncertainty, but downright embuggerance with regards to team selection, tactics and general motivation.

It would seem that our destiny with David Moyes includes the inescapable clause that every season comes t early for us. I don't understand it, I really don't.

First doubts set in against Wolfsburg. I mean, our final warm up game and you'd expect the team to be almost in top gear and going for it. But we were toothless and aimless, no drive. Whatever was or wasn't done during the week preceding the Blackburn game, the same fitless, toothless Everton prevailed again.

Sure, we can bemoan the lack of a Drogba or David Villa in the ranks. But come on, most of us have been sucked into the possibilities for this season and much of it deriving from a midfield that, both on paper and on performance, deferred to few if any in the EPL. What the fuck has happened?

IMHO those who suggest fear or conservatism are closest to the truth. One thing that the team has been crying out for (since Wolfsburg) is drive. Seems to me (and thousands other Evertonians) that a certain Jack Rodwell provides that in spades. So what the hell is this great young player doing warming the bench?

And more so when you consider that Moyes selected Fellaini (great, but not yet fit) ahead of Rodwell for the Blackburn game. or he played Osman on the right of a 5, which has failed enough times that, were it a scientific test, it would be de facto proven as wrong and published in New Scientist.

To hear our captain musing that the Blackburn defeat was just the kick up the arse that the team needed was unfathomably bizarre. What? we need a kick up the arse for the first game of the season? Sorry skipper, but bollocks.

We're two games in and, as per usual, we are not only losing or at best drawing, but we actually look capable of achieving nothing more.

I have no doubt that our form will change. Like the shite starts, it always does. But that's not the point is it. Sure, titles have been won from such positions and my face is big enough to take all the egg coming if we recover and do just that. But that's not the point is it.

It is depressing to contemplate, after just two games (against lower table opposition) that there is something fundamentally wrong with our preparation, motivation, team selection and tactics that prevents us hitting the ground running. This is now an annual event, not coincidence or bad luck. It is bad planning and bad preparation.

Had we played Chelsea and ManU or Spurs then there may be an arguent to be had. But not with Blackburn and Wolves, with all due respect to both teams. I find myself more than a little angry and frustrated.

In pre season Gueye and Rodwell showed well. Bily,one goal aside, didn't. Yet neither Rodwell or Gueye have been given the chance to show what their youth, energy and skill can do for a team struggling with form, tactics and focus.

I don;t like what I'ms seeing. It appears to be the side of David Moyes that seemed to be giving way to a more adventurous and expansive football tactician, based on our play late last season and his utterances about tactics and style.

Words are cheap. Actions are what's needed. This team is crying out for Jack Rodwell and it's also crying out for different tactics, be it 4-2-3-1 or at least something different. I'm staggered that Moyes chose to play Osman on the right of a midfield 5, I mean how many times do you need to prove something doesnlt work? And yet, the opposite is true of Rodwell. This boy is not only ready, but needed.

We have no choice but to persist with our affections. But this annual depression is becoming unacceptable and increasingly unnecessary. Lose the next game and we will be 8 points and about 20 goals off the pace after just 3 games.

Welcome back to life as an Evertonian.

David Hallwood
17   Posted 22/08/2010 at 13:27:03

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Good post Alan 16#, the next two league against Villa away and man U at home, should be interesting to say the least. I don't want to put a hex on the team but the way we're playing we could end up with P4 pts 1, I'm just hoping, no praying that they wake up at Villa Park on Sunday.

Fuck me this team really knows how to depress you.
Bob Parrington
18   Posted 22/08/2010 at 13:27:30

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Half-assed bleedin' effort is all I can offer. No excuses, just piss poor effort.
Distin was the best player in a blue shirt on my Foxtel viewing. We should have done better. What the F is wrong with us.

I agree Alan, why replace beckford with Saha? Time for Moyes to be more positive. How can we come away from games against Blackburn and Wolves with just one point.? As I said,,, NO EXCUSES
COYB
Terry Hayes
19   Posted 22/08/2010 at 12:26:58

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Thank god we weren't playing Chelsea... if Wolves can cut through us and score that easily, how many would they have scored?

Why is it that we keep on hearing that all the top clubs are interested in Jack Rodwell... and yet Moyes won't even play him? In my mind, Moyes is making the same mistake he made with Rooney, he went to United and Ferguson threw him straight in.

And what's with all this loyalty to certain players bollocks? Ok we finish regularly in a decent position every year now, but we still haven't won fuck all.

Come on, Moyesie, change it; same old shit, same old mistakes, different season that's all... and get a Plan B ffs! Surely for £3M a year you should have at least enough technical nous to change things during the course of a game if all is not going to plan.

Joseph Strumm
20   Posted 22/08/2010 at 13:21:25

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Agree totally with everything you've said Alan Kirwin,i personally didn't buy into any of the pre-season hype and got what i expected from the first two games-predictable,conservative,slow-paced shambles,yesterdays second half was a disgrace the whole shape of the team went to bits and not one player was prepared to grab the game by the scruff and drive us on,it was screaming for Rodwell and what do we get,fucking Osman on the right,WTF!
Steve Fletcher
21   Posted 22/08/2010 at 15:53:29

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hmmmm.....after Villa getting battered at the Barcodes next week will be interesting.....do they give us a backlash...or will they now crumble?
Jay Harris
22   Posted 22/08/2010 at 15:36:54

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I have to confess that I really dont know what's going on.

I never accepted the hype that we had the best MF in the Prem or that any of our MF were top 4. You only have to look at what Chelsea, Arsenal and Man U achieve year in year out to see that we are light years away from them man for man.

However what we have always had in spades is a team spirit second to none and a strong mentality running through the team.

Somewhere the wheel has fallen off. Mikky looks to be worth 5000 a week instead of 75000 a week. Saha looks like a division 2 striker but more worrying the whole team seems dispirited.

Whether this is nerves due to weight of expectation or disharmony due to the 75000 a week that Mikky has just got while others have been told for years there is no money I dont know but something besides the team selection is obviously wrong.

Paul Roderick
23   Posted 22/08/2010 at 16:42:40

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Larry #4
Regarding Tim Howard. He always stays on his line, can't judge crosses, has very poor positioning.

Why are we not linked with Shay Given?
Franny Porter
24   Posted 22/08/2010 at 17:09:25

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Paul#22
Because we are skint, cant aford even fucking Bellamy on loan, meffs....
Michael Coville
25   Posted 22/08/2010 at 18:04:43

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Well we might well have the strongest squad in the Moyes reign but we can only have eleven of them on the field at the same time. Unfortunately the eleven we have had on the field at any one time for the first two matches of this season have just not been good enough. Hopefully we will see some improvement on Wednesday when some of the players who showed promise in the pre-season games will be given a chance.
Alan Kirwin
26   Posted 22/08/2010 at 19:07:22

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Whatever the pluses or minuses of individual players at any point in time, this all boils down to one very simple question, why does it take Everton a minimum of a dozen games in any given season under Moyes before we start playing joined up football?

Everything seems wrong, energy, spunk, skill, understanding, movement. And when one considers just how good we got last season (against good teams) it all looks ridiculous.

I'm left with a mildly depressing thought at the moment, which is simply the prospect of what may have happened if our first two games had been, say Chelsea and Arsenal. I don;t think it's sacrilege to think we'd be slaughtered.

Moyes HAS to sort out this dilemma. It happens every year & it can't be coincidence. If Newcastle can do it Everton can do it. Wasting 5 points in the first 2 games is SO frustrating. Last season we missed the CL by 9 points. Blackburn & Wolves, on good pitches in warm weather, are games we SHOULD win.

I guess this is the flipside of Moyesy But he's now paid top dollar even by Top 4 standards and, regardless of other constraints, expectations are aligned with his remuneration. This season we have to deliver.
Dennis Stevens
27   Posted 22/08/2010 at 22:35:33

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Absotively, Alan - this is the season for Moyes to deliver. Whatever is not right, it's Moyes job to fix it. Regardless of the opposition or even the results so far, there is no excuse for the wholly inadequate level of the performances. Moyes needs to get a fucking grip, & pronto !!
Andy Crooks
28   Posted 23/08/2010 at 00:10:10

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A couple of excellent posts , Alan Kirwin. I think you sum up the views of many.
Tim Brashar
29   Posted 23/08/2010 at 00:11:25

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Matt (#8), I agree with you, I don't think it's anything to do with the crowd. I think it's a change in mindset from the players and staff.

I've heard so many of the players talk about something special going on at the club this year, and from our two performances so far it I feels like the players are thinking too far ahead and worrying about each game in the context of this 'special' season rather than playing each game on its merits and just going for it.

I remember before the Blackburn game Arteta talking about the expectation this season and saying what a 'relief' it would be to get that first win. Sounded like a player feeling the pressure.
Trevor Lynes
30   Posted 23/08/2010 at 09:36:10

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Ive watched the goals flying in all around the premier and if we dont get some cutting edge soon we will be miles behind on goal difference...some of the results have been bizarre....Blackpool scoring 4 at Wigan then conceding 6 against Arsenal..Villa easily beating West Ham then getting destroyed by Newcastle etc etc.
I must say though that Carrol looks to be a real find at Newcastle and he will terrorize a lot of defences this season.
I really dont share the optimism of the fans prior to the seasons start as we are a bit lightweight.
Wolves basically over powered us in the second half and won nearly all the 50/50 balls.
Our midfield can play some good football but we dont have a cutting edge....I dont think the Yak is the answer either as he looks past his best since his injury and has not looked fit in the odd games he has played.....
We need to start at the back and keep a few clean sheets by eliminating the stupid mistakes...from what I have seen so far Distin has been our best defender.
The midfield need to take more responsibility and "Take the ball from the defence and create real chances for our strikers.
Watching old stagers like Scholes dominate the midfield and pass accurately show our midfielders up.
He is still far better than almost all the divisions midfielders apart from Fabregas.
Making space to receive the ball out of defence and being able to pick a pass is fundamental to every midfielders job and no matter what we think about our players ability it is pretty obvious that we still fall short.
The top sides very seldom boot the ball upfield as it normally concedes possesion but unfortunately we often miss out our midfield when we are under pressure and invite more pressure.
Wolves should not have been a problem to us if we had continued to keep the ball in the second half but we panicked and gave them the impetus to get a result and almost a win.
If we lose and draw to sides like Blackburn and Wolves then we will not be challengers this season...!!!
Paul Corbett
31   Posted 23/08/2010 at 12:37:18

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Good report Ken,

Was at the game and it was same old story.

Failing to capitalize on the domination of the first half. We had a lot of possession but not many clear cut chances to speak of.

Thought Beckford had a decent game with a couple of turns when the ball was played into feet but why do we persist on knocking long balls up and around his head (who is he going to flick onto??)

I feel Bily can only be used as an impact sub as he looks disinterested when he starts. Why Moyes thought breaking up the partnership of Pienaar and Baines down then left was a good idea I don't know.

Like other commenters, I think we should have introduced Rodwell at some point or even Gueye to supply decent crosses.

My team for Huddersfield 4-4-2
Mucha; Coleman, Heitinga, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Rodwell, Fellaini, Pienaar, Beckford, Saha

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