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COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From my seat: Birmingham (H)

By Ken Buckley :  10/03/2011 :  Comments (17) :

Weary Wednesday dampens enthusiasm

Almost 35,000 in attendance, yet neither players nor fans were able to enthuse each other in a drab game that never really seemed to settle into any pattern from start to finish. Same line-up as Saturday with the exception of Heitinga in for the injured Neville but the same level of performance was never reached.

We started well and within minutes Arteta was in with a shout but decided not to shoot and instead passed to Saha who fluffed his lines and lost control of the ball. Somehow this set the tone for the night as, time and time again, we were to get to the box and either run out of ideas or fluff shots.

Birmingham then had a good chance from a free kick and Jerome got in a good header which Howard did well to divert it away. Everton broke again at pace with Arteta in full flight but he pulled up as though shot and after treatment was helped off. I haven?t seen anyone afflicted like that in full flight since Snodin many years ago. It does not look good for the Spaniard or indeed the team for the rest of the season. Coleman replaced him with Osman going left and it was indeed he who took on the mantle of playmaker/creator. At the same time, Bentley had to be replaced for Birmingham.

With Arteta gone, both players and fans were subdued for a while but we did have one spell of pressure that saw Osman head a great cross from Hibbert into the deck and on into the keeper's arms and Beckford have a shot but straight at the keeper. Everton attacked again and that man Osman had a drive well dealt with by the keeper.

Then, from nowhere, just before the 20-minute mark, a diagonal ball lofted forward found striker Beausejour with no central defender near him, Hibbert got across to him but was out-headed and Howard, who had remained rooted to his line in what looked like indecision, could only help the ball into the net at a trickle. 1-0 down at home again... and Howard rushing to berate both centre-backs as the fans remained mute except one near me who announced to all that he?d had enough and left.

We did attempt to regroup and attack and, from one sortie, Rodwell found Beckford but his shot on the turn was high. Coleman got down the right and put in a good cross that found the unmarked Beckford in the six-yard box for a tap-in but he somehow contrived to miss the ball altogether which bounced off the startled Carr toward goal but the keeper was alert and saved.

With 10 mins to go until the break, Osman, who had taken some excellent corners from the left, put in another curver which was headed away and out of the box but straight to Heitinga who hit a rasper into the top corner of the net, surely a contender for goal of the month.

From then until the break, which included four minutes of extra time, we attacked and Rodwell drilled one in low but the keeper gathered as he did moments later from a Coleman diving header.

Half-time and the chat centred on Johnny?s goal plus the Arteta injury and the plight his and others? injuries might have on the rest of the season. Not a pretty thought...

The second half saw the Blues again on top but with only Osman seeming capable of creative thinking and only our fullbacks Baines and Hibbert giving him movement, we produced a hotchpotch of misplaced passes, poor judgement and too many over-hit wishful balls. No real clear-cut chances to get excited about but sort of half-chances and one penalty appeal as Foster seemed to flatten Coleman as he cleared a cross then another when Saha claimed he was being held as he headed over the bar. The Ref, Mr Walton, was having none of it.

Coleman cut in dangerously but then sent a left foot screamer more toward Goodison Road than the goal. Saha then profited from a slip by his marker but, instead of getting a first-time shot off, decided to turn and was crowded out. Beckford was put through but chose to shoot straight at the keeper when toward either post was the better option.

Birmingham sent on the giant Zigic but he may as well have stayed on the bench as we continued to attack but with no cutting edge, despite some good work from Osman and, on occasion, Baines and Hibbert.

Around 80 mins, our manager sends on Anichebe for Beckford but no real advantage there. One thing caught my eye though: Victor seems either unwilling or unable to jump, which I find strange for a frontline striker. In those last minutes, Osman hit a beaut which the keeper just tipped over. Anichebe had a powder puff effort as he was falling over that did not trouble the keeper. Final whistle and the odd muted boos were heard but players and fans dejectedly wandered away.

MotM - Osman with Baines and Hibbert worthy of mention.

Overall, a strange game to witness, one where not a lot happened and never came close to catching fire. Our big worry now must be the rising injury list but, with only one game between now and 2 April, we may get some back... although, with Fellaini and Arteta looking like long-term casualties, there will be much for the manager to ponder.

One thing staring the club in the face is that this squad lacks quality in depth, as well as a few players regarded as first teamers not showing the progress necessary... so, considering the well publicised lack of funds, it will be quite a challenge for board and manager to resolve this come the close season. Still, plenty of points to play for... so all will have to grit their teeth and battle for them and see where we eventually end up. No good crying over spilt milk, go at it lads.

19 March and Fulham at home; after 10 days R&R, I wonder which Everton will turn up and in what form?

Ever hopeful, I will see you there.
UP THE BLUES
 

Reader Comments

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Steve Carter
1   Posted 10/03/2011 at 05:42:43

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Watched the second half on the teev (sensible breakfast time down here), and I thought we showed some enthusiasm, but no ability to pick out men in their box or to finish. Beckford should have put away that one when he was clean through at angle but sent it straight at Beckford. I thought Heitega played OK too. Actually thought that Vic played better than I've seen him any other time this season. Low bar, I know; and I accept he wasn't anything to write home about either. Really missing Tim Cahill and Arteta (assuming the latter's form v Newcastle was not flash in the pan).
Paul Olsen
2   Posted 10/03/2011 at 06:04:55

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The moment that really said it all was when Hibbert hoofed the ball straight onto Coleman´s head from point blank.
Keith Edmunds
3   Posted 10/03/2011 at 06:21:37

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Thanks Paul, made me laugh!
Michael Kidd
4   Posted 10/03/2011 at 06:54:36

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Thanks Ken, once again. Thought you would make more of the Brum goal - yet another soft concession caused by schoolboy defending. How to get this right? Ultimately, though, we lost the extra two points because of inability to score despite being totally dominant during the second half. Don't think Howard had to deal with even an easy save in the second half.

One final point not mentioned in Ken's report ? why bring Bily on with 4 minutes left? Surely for someone lacking in confidence give him a bit longer and he couldn't have done any worse than those on the field.

John Beesley
5   Posted 10/03/2011 at 07:06:03

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"Bily couldn't do any worse?" ? Did you watch his performance in the Reading game?
Dermot Ryan
6   Posted 10/03/2011 at 07:56:10

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So what has that worthless lump called Victor done to keep someone who has scored more goals in less time than Victor will ever score in his brief career in the Premier League off the pitch? I know Diniyar is not perfect but he is both more expensive (and thus should earn his corn) and a more proven goal-scorer than that useless, whining, ineffectual lump has ever been in his whole career at Everton.
Sam Hoare
7   Posted 10/03/2011 at 08:17:52

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Almost feel sorry for Victor. His clear limitations to be fair are not his fault. I don't feel as though he doesn't try when he comes on. He's just not very good.

Last night was strange. Although we didn't create many clear chances (which is hard to do against bus parkers), I felt sure that one of our many, many half-chances would go in. Deja vu that they didn't.

There's only so many times you can blame bad luck so I suppose we have to blame bad finishing. More work on clinical attacking in training I think please. Oh, and a world class striker this summer would be nice too...
Matt Compton
8   Posted 10/03/2011 at 08:59:40

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Fairly balanced report Ken.

No surprise there's no mention of Rodwell. I watched him carefully last night and, for a lad who's got so much ability, his safety-first attitude is frightening.

I actually thought Heitinga was further forward than him all game.

I don't know if he's shackling himself or Moyes is giving him instructions but the lad needs to get more involved. He's tidy in possession, rarely loses it, but his passes are sideways or backwards. I just wish he'd drive forward and commit players, he's got the ability.

As for Victor Anichebe. Yes he is limited but at least show some effort. He doesn't move, jump or do anything ? even Tim Howard was berating him at one stage from the other side of the pitch.

If Barcelona's players with all the technical ability in the world can put in a full shift, so can you Victor.
Dennis Stevens
9   Posted 10/03/2011 at 09:59:35

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It perplexes me as to why Moyes doesn't introduce Bilyaletdinov earlier in these type of matches, where we seem to be dominating play against a poor team who are 'parking the bus' but failing to make the breakthrough. Surely, that's the ideal opportunity to introduce one of the few players in the squad who has shown himself capable of scoring from outside the box.
Ian Kearney
10   Posted 10/03/2011 at 10:48:15

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A little ridiculous that Anichebe is still bearing the brunt of 2 points dropped for a 15 min cameo, he didn't do much wrong, and I don't think he stood still either, and Howard can't moan at anyone till he learns how to kick a ball, was he aiming for the white shirts?

I also thought Rodwell had a decent game, Barcelona are getting constantly mentioned, well if Xavi doesn't have an option in front of him, he goes sideways or backwards as well because he wants to recylcle possession.

He couldn't win with some fans last night: if he kept the ball he got moaned, and I'm sure if he clipped the ball aimlessly forward, they would be on his back as well. He always showed for the ball, held his position well, and covered a lot of ground, had a decent game all in all.

This is a 19-year-old being asked to run the midfield, and don't give Wilshere does this that and the other bollocks, he plays for Arsenal, and has it somewhat easier.

Dave Wilson
11   Posted 10/03/2011 at 11:56:21

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Vic played for about 12 minutes0 last night, we`d been shite all night BEFORE he got near the pitch. He did ok, but it's still his fault.

The three absolute sitters he laid on at St James's were all forgotten too as once again people piled in... and we won!

Never in 50 years of watching footie have I come across a player who gets such abuse from his own fans, and at such a young age.

Can't think why he won't run through a brick wall for you.
David Thomas
12   Posted 10/03/2011 at 12:13:25

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Ian,

Cannot agree with you about Rodwell. As I said on another thread, I have never seen an Everton player pass the ball sideways and backwards as much as Rodwell, except for Tobais Linderoth. I understand your point that our forward players don't help but I don't think they can take all the blame for Rodwell's approach.

Also, yes Wilshere is playing with better players but, on the evidence I have seen of the two players, Wilshere looks a far better player.
Ian Kearney
13   Posted 10/03/2011 at 13:17:35

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I agree, David, that Wilshere is ahead in his development of Rodwell, I am just worried that a very talented 19-year-old is set to become the boo-boys' next target.
Sam Hoare
14   Posted 10/03/2011 at 13:51:38

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I don't think we should be berating any player unless they show a noticeable lack of effort (yakubu style). Certainly not our young ones who will need confidence building to accomplish any potential they might have.
Stephen Leary
15   Posted 10/03/2011 at 16:04:38

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Moyes letting Yakubu and Vaughan go and keeping Anichebe speaks volumes to me of a man who has been in the job 2 years too many.
Martin Mason
16   Posted 10/03/2011 at 18:20:06

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I'm glad that there's resignation rather than out and out negativity. We're a fairly good side with our top players in the side and not as good without them. The positive I take is that we're on a reasonably consistent run with WLWD and we should be able to avoid the relegation battle. It's a big one this year as the lower clubs have taken points from the top 4 and 40 points may not be enough.

Wilshere is much better than Rodwell at the moment but he had a season on loan where he got games and this year he's broken into the Arsenal first team. Jack Rodwell has never had a decent run and has been fucked about in the positional sense. I believe that Jack can be a far better player than Wilshere and would also have benefited from games in a loan spell. Everton have the capacity to ruin any great internal prospect as surely they would have ruined Rooney and any other half-decent player.

I watched the Tottenham game last night and Pienaar was about as out of his depth as he could be, being taken off with 20 minutes to go. His best move was always no move.
Denis Richardson
17   Posted 10/03/2011 at 22:15:29

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@ Michael 4 ? I don't think Moyes would bring on Bily if he didn't have to. Bily is not from an EU country so needs a work permit. To keep the work permit, he needs to make a certain number of 1st team appearances if fit (I think 75% or so unless the rules have changed). Bringing him on for his usual 2-5 minute cameo ticks this box.

I cannot see Moyes not trying to offload him in the summer if he gets any sort of decent offer. if that happens it would be a bit of a shame 'cos I don't think he's been given a fair shout ? although I don't see him in training every day like the manager does.

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