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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Fulham (a)

By Ken Buckley :  25/09/2010 :  Comments (24) :

Just the one point, to leave us bottom of the league, from a game that we should have won... but, once again, the deficiency in that final third did for us. Make no mistake; this was a better display than of late but, all over the pitch, players with great experience failed to make a breakthrough against a team where one goal would have been enough.

We started brightly from the off and had Fulham on the back foot but without really testing their keeper and chances were few and far between for either side. Eventually an unfit-looking Cahill with heavy strapping to his knee chested a ball to the feet of Pienaar but his effort was best described as token. Coleman, despite all the clamour, was making his debut starting appearance and, although full of endeavour, failed to make some of his forays count for much at the business end. 

Pienaar made a good decoy run which dragged a couple of Fulham players with him and allowed Baines the chance to get in the box but, with one thought in his mind, shot and had it blocked. It was mostly the Blues going forward and it took until the half-hour mark for Fulham to fashion a chance when Gera put in a cross-cum-shot that saw one-time Everton target Etuhu head powerfully but straight at Howard.

Really it wasn?t until the stroke of half-time that the game almost turned a Blue way when Arteta had a shot that looked to be dipping in only for the keeper to get across and fingertip away.

Half-time and most of the chat was of a positive nature as we had most of the attacking play and a goal was not out of the question. 

Second half and Fulham started the better, with Howard at last called into action, albeit fielding powder-puff stuff.  We were now under some pressure and Jagielka's method of clearing, with nothing more than a big boot, ensured Fulham came right back at us.  This almost paid off when Danny Murphy found a super pass to Dempsey and, but for a great save by Howard and a foul-up by Duff on the follow-up, we could have been behind.

It was mostly Fulham now but we did have the odd break and, from a Coleman foray forward, his final ball just eluded the Yak as he closed in.  Dempsey then had a deflected shot that Howard scrambling.  The Blues then pushed forward and, from some excellent play from Fellaini, who had overshadowed Arteta in the middle of the park all afternoon, saw shots coming in, although without a lot of conviction; we were on top.

In this period, the Yak produced a clever shot that the keeper pushed away at full stretch.  Then the Yak tested him again and this time he could only parry but a defender was on hand to hack away. Right on the death, Dempsey shot just wide and then the Yak had two chances; firstly, one that beat the keeper but also the post; and then, after powerfully working some space for himself, his effort across the keeper was powder-puff.

Overall, I thought that, although this result leaves us bottom of the table, we showed that it?s only goal-getting that is hindering us. We played some good stuff today but got only a point when, on another day, the ball would have bounced that bit different and we would have run out easy winners.

The positives I took from the game were the attempts to get into the opposition and fashion chances; they didn?t come off today but every player was trying and no-one hiding.  On a negative note, I can?t understand why Jags has to make so many 50-odd-yard passes that fail time after time and give the ball back to the opposition. 

On a positive note, I was pleased to see the manager show some guts and put Heitinga on the bench as his displays have not lived up to the ?World Cup Finalist? tag.  Hopefully this shows to all the players, you have to earn your place.  Today, I thought the balance of the team seemed better with Coleman on the right, he didn?t show much at all except endeavour but just being there seemed to give other players more of a focus on their own roles.

I could not understand when Cahill was finally subbed, he seemed to be left on too long for my liking, as he was clearly playing for the cause rather than the games ahead; why Osman was put wide left and Pienaar in the hole, it seemed to break up the productive Arteta - Baines - Pienaar triangle and Osman is just as likely to snatch one as is Pienaar; still, I am not qualified to be in charge, so it might have worked.

When it comes to MotM today, I would offer Fellaini, back in his proper position, and head and shoulders above anything else on the park.  Where do we go from here?  Well, the only way is up but, after what I saw today, I think we are capable of doing that once we start to believe in our own ability.

I have read on this site the anti-Moyes reaction and, like any fan, I react toward this manager or any other over the years as results come and go... but I would say at the moment Moyes still enjoys the support of most, but not all of match-going fans. 

In my view, the time for saying Moyes has to go will be when those match-going fans go public at games with the cry of ?Moyes Out?.  I am not saying that non-match goers can?t join the debate but, believe me, the time to take notice is when the ?Red Tops? show the pictures of banners and reports of chants from Goodison and away grounds that say his time is over ? we have previous in this direction.

Until then, let?s hope he and the players can arrest this storm and move on up the table and ensure we as a club can challenge despite the obvious investment that is needed but seems worlds away. Birmingham next, could that be our first win?  Hell I hope so.  See you there.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Art Jones
1   Posted 26/09/2010 at 07:12:02

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That was just about how I saw the game and I agree that Jags's policy of hit and hope has to be resolved, perhaps Fellaini or Arteta should make themselves available more often.

Playing Coleman on the right meant we had someone who is willing to run at defenders and when Osman came on we seemed to create more for Yakubu who surely will be hitting the net soon.

Good report !

Michael Evans
2   Posted 26/09/2010 at 07:33:28

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Ken- Thank you. A measured, thoughtful assessment as always.

The poor start to the season has provoked an understandable wave of frustration and anger towards DM on this site. I, like many others, are beginning to question whether the Manager after 8 years can overcome his safety first, often negative style.

By contrast, the "apologistas" have been fairly quiet. No doubt they are waiting for an upturn in fortunes and will then condemn DM's doubters for their over-reaction.

You are quite right in your "we have previous in this direction" statement.I too remember well the "dark days" and know that once the Goodison faithful have had enough the writing will be on the wall for DM and perhaps BK too.However strong their "special relationship" is they would both do well to be mindful of this.

Chris Jones
3   Posted 26/09/2010 at 09:38:54

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Absolutely spot on Ken. Nothing more to add.
Stephen Kenny
4   Posted 26/09/2010 at 11:08:05

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Considering results so far I was quite suprised by the fervour when Moyes song was sang as he walked past us. Also he looked very relaxed, certainly not like he has th weight of the world on his shoulders. He clearly see's this as a short term blip.
David Hallwood
5   Posted 26/09/2010 at 11:16:13

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As ever Ken, a great report, but the first two paragraphs are beginning to look like part of your word template- we started brightly and bossed the game.

Michael Evens#1, I think that it's only those on the Hezbollah wing of the anti-Moyes brigade that calls anyone who supports Moyes apologists. I am broadly supportive of Moyes, but that doesn?t mean that I am uncritical of him, and some of his tactics, team selections and substitutions. But we?re not getting battered by teams and yes we?re bottom, but our 3 losses have all been 1-0, and we?ve conceded 7, which is the same as Arsenal & man U.

But getting back to substitutions, there isn?t a football supporter out there that doesn?t criticise their manager?s substitutions, usually in the form of ?they should?ve brought Bloggs on 20 minutes ago?, its managers & coaches? obsession with keeping the shape that armchair managers (which is what we are) don?t get.
Leigh Hardie
6   Posted 26/09/2010 at 11:10:08

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A fair review of the game Ken. I'd perhaps have had Pienaar as the MOTM but I agree it was good to see Fellaini so dominant back in the DM position. I felt confident that something could happen every time he got on the ball. I also thought the team had a pretty good shape with the right used as an outlet far more.
However, shape means nothing when your players and most notably your centre forward can't put it in the net. It just needed the ball to bounce of someone's arse, but it wasn't one of those days... again.
Dick Fearon
7   Posted 26/09/2010 at 11:19:03

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I like Moyes, there I've said it. Call me an appologist or whatever but I admire the man for what he has done for Everton I doubt any club thinks we are easy beats.
Nonetheless, there have been times when when my patience and respect has been stretched to the limit.
This is one of those times.
Very early against Fulham it was obvious that they had little to offer. That called for the introduction of Beckford as a twin spearhead. Sadly, the ditching of Osman was as much experimentation as Davy would allow himself. A second striker was bridge too far. It was a case of fighting with one hand behind your back.
Speaking of Osman, it is incredible, (incredulous) that after all these years Davy has at last come to the conclusion that Leon is part of our problem at right mid.
I hope his recent quote was wrongly interpretated, "our predicament will be solved when we start scoring goals."
That reminds me of a prime minister who said the unemployment situation will improve once more people find jobs.
Davy would have restored some of my waning respect had he said we have employed a goal scoring coach.
Oliver Molloy
8   Posted 26/09/2010 at 12:39:57

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Football is simple: you put the ball in the back of the net when you get your chances. Not taking chances is one thing, opposing keepers playing out of their skin and making fantastic saves is another, and of course old lady luck plays her part and at present she seems to be ignoring us!!

Look at Brentford on Friday, beaten 1-0 by Leyton Orient who I think were close to the bottom of their league and are now above them! Yes indeed we need a bit of luck to shine on us and then we'll get going, roll on next week then!

I wonder if Moyes had a drink with Hughes after the game yesterday?

David Thomas
9   Posted 26/09/2010 at 13:21:47

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Ken,

Good report. I think your 2nd last paragraph sums up the Moyes situation very well. The majority of the match going support is behind David Moyes (however, not blind to his faults), whilst if this site is anything to go by the non match goer has turned against Moyes.

In my opinion, I think that this is because the match going fan can see that the performances on the whole have been quite good, but oviously the results don't do us justice for our domination in games. I would be much more worried about our current position if the performances had consistently been at the level of the newcastle game to go with the results.

With regards the match yesterday I agree with Leigh that Pienaar was our best performer as he always tried to move the ball forward and attack the fulham defence.
Ian Bennett
10   Posted 26/09/2010 at 14:15:13

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I didn't see the full match, just the Sky bit. Arteta doesn't look himself at all.

Just looking to move it left or right - with little attacking running. He can offer far more joining in going forward than sitting with Fellaini.
John Daley
11   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:03:10

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Guess I must be in amongst that minority of match going Moyes non-believers because I can't agree that our performances have been good, or that we've 'dominated' games. Dominated possession maybe but done nothing of note with it, void of attacking options and all too often utterly predictable.
Dan Brierley
12   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:40:18

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We've now clocked up 71 shots this season in the League. We have had more shots than all teams we have played, with exception to the utterly poor showing at Newcastle. For me, we are struggling to put the ball away, nothing else. The rest of the team is functioning pretty well. I thought yesterday we saw a glimpse of what the Yak is capable of, easily his best game since his injury.

I pointed out this statistic, because I dont understand the comment 'Moyes is too defensive'. If we are so defensive, why do we create so many chances? I think once the Yak gets fully match fit, it will be business as usual. And Beckford can only get better. His confidence is obviously shot right now.
David Thomas
13   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:45:08

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John,

I guess you must be.
Andy Peers
14   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:33:43

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I am not sure why people are not worried about relegation. I get the opinion that this is not a concern with most fans, not me, I think there is a good chance we drop. Next 3 games could quite possibly net 0 points and then we will be home against Stoke with the crowd on their backs and no confidence and Stoke will probably sneak a winner. I hope I am wrong but the prospect of 3 points from the first 10 games is a potential reality.
Brian McCarthy
15   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:50:50

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All teams have good technical players with the ability to keep the ball. It's in and around the box that the better teams excel and thus finish in the top 4. Yesterday at Fulham, Yakubu showed that ability to create an opening out of nothing. This was his first start in the league, a couple of more full games and those chances will go in. Stick with The Yak and he will score goals. I promise.

Arteta needs to play further forward, let Fellaini as the defensive midfield player pick it up from the back.

Johnny Heitinga ? probably the best centre half on the books ? sitting on the bench?

Jay Harris
16   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:53:18

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Ken a very sensible and balanced view of where we're at right now and the game yesterday.

It has always been said you need a bit of luck in football and I do believe that now is the time to rally around the team despite the disappointment of the opening 6 or 7 games.

I remember the season when we nearly went down and our position then was not helped by the supporters until we were deep in the mire and then the supporters got behind the players.

Players do not deliberately play badly and Managers do not deliberately manage badly but sometimes they need a kick up the backside to get focussed again. Hopefully this is now the case And we can look forward to a some better results and start to climb the table.
Jamie Tulacz
17   Posted 26/09/2010 at 21:15:02

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Ken- good balanced report of the match yesterday- probably the best one I've seen.

Honestly think that if the Yak can get back to form, (which he looked like he might be starting to do in spells yesterday) and scoring a few we'll quickly pull up the table. Good to see the big Fella back on form in his proper position, but Arteta remains a bit of a worry and we need him to return to last season's form too.
Frank McGregor
18   Posted 26/09/2010 at 21:32:04

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I have been a Moyes supporter right from the very beginning... frustrated at times, yes, but willing to conceed that the manager knows best. However, I am afraid that, unless we have a dramatic change in tactics, Everton will be relegated.
Mike Rourke
19   Posted 26/09/2010 at 21:37:20

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Was also at the game yesterday. Match report is spot on. Would note that from my seat when Moyes ( suit and all ) came out late for the second half and had to pass right in front of us he received an excellent reception.

Yakubu received pretty much the opposite. I guess it's good that despite the size of his belly he manages to amble into decent positions, but the apparent lack of effort when trying to execute is getting beyond infuriating. When he missed what looked like a sitter right at the end the bloke behind me kicked the back of my seat so hard that it sprang right into the back of my knee! Ouch!
Dermot Ryan
20   Posted 26/09/2010 at 21:51:24

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Want to echo Jay. I was really angry after Newcastle and deeply concerned after Brentford, but, believe it or not, I'm encouraged by yesterday. The selection has improved slightly and we controlled the game for most of the 90 minutes. I just hope Moyes learned something from that performance: Coleman at mid; no Osman; Keep Fell at DM and will continue to take risks rather than revert to form (i.e. use subs to genuinely change dynamic; give Bily a decent amount of time AND in the right position to impress; try Beckford with an experienced striker who can feed him).
COYB
Paul Corbett
21   Posted 27/09/2010 at 08:44:38

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After what had been an awful week, like Dermot I was encouraged by Saturday, mainly because we didn't lose and we kept our first clean sheet of the season.

If Yak can grab a goal I feel his confidence will come and will bag a few more in the following games.

Brian Noble
22   Posted 27/09/2010 at 09:34:57

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There is a feeling of great complcency about the place: "Performances have generally been good. We generally lack only a goal-scoring threat. We`re traditionally slow starters. Moyes is one of the very best managers outside the top four and will know how to address the situation." ? These are just a few of the aphorisms I have heard to describe the diabolical start to what was expected to be our breakthrough season.

Some of them may hold merit but the fact remains that we are destined to be `also rans` yet again, paying a manager absolutely top dollar purely to ensure top league status and survival for Blue Bill.

About time we match-goers got animated, methinks!

John Sheron
23   Posted 27/09/2010 at 14:28:51

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Against Villa and Fulham we have both dominated possession and failed to score. The attacking play on Saturday was good and the return of Neville to right-back a positive move when coupled with Coleman's natural attacking tendencies. However, for all our good moves and positive play I was left dumb-founded by the contribution of the Yak. Once in the 18-yard box, he comes alive but his movement and participation outside the box was woeful. Ironically his shooting from inside the box on Saturday was also ineffective (as shot after shot left the goalkeeper with little to do).

The big Fella is now playing in his best position and should not be moved under any circumstances and in general the team is as attacking as it?s ever been under Moyes, it?s just that we lack the killer threat in front of goal. Thankfully, I?m confident the goals will come.

Re the Moyes debate, I would offer that when the Everton ?away? fans turn against a manager then the end is nigh. For now, Moyes is safe and based on my expectations the team will be sitting in 10th-12th position after 12 games. Unfortunately that will be a long way from my expectation of 4th-6th after 12 games I had predicted.
Steve Edwards
24   Posted 27/09/2010 at 16:18:15

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Strange how we now dominate the midfield but create very little danger for the opposition. I know all the talk on here is that the forwards can't put the ball in the net but I think that there is more to it than that.

A lack of pace throughout the team means that although we are dominating the midfield, the opposition have all the time in the world to get behind the ball. We get to the penalty area and the opposition have there defence all back and set waiting for us. They now know that Everton can't hirt them on the counter attack. They have all the time in the world to just get numbers back behind the ball. We are so one dimensional. Game after game the same pattern unfolds. No matter how good a team you are you are, you are going to struggle to break teams down if they have most of the team behind the ball. Creating chances is all about catching teams off balance and this slow build up dosn't allow us to do it.

True we have missed chances that came our way but over the 90 minutes we don't create anything like the number of chances we should be creating. I thought that Fulham looked much more dangerous than us on the few occations that they got at us. I can help thinking that we would have come away with nothing if they had their strikers fit.

Am I worried about relegation? You bet yeh! Most seasons you can see that two of the three teams that come up are going to go back down again. That realistically means you only have to worry about one of the more established teams going down. This year that dosn't seem to be the case. Newcastle and West Brom are looking good. West Brom may have finally learnt their lesson and even Blackpool don't look like the push over that everybody thought they would be, although I still think they will go down. There's a whole bunch of very tough old teams in there now, all built for a scrap, with the possible exception of Wigan and West Ham. That said, they can beat anybody on their day (as Spurs found out). So there you have it, don't be too quick to rule out a return to the bad old days.

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