COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Ossie, Ossie, Ossie. Oi, Oi, Oi!!!
A sunny day down Goodison way saw us assemble for a game that had a lot riding on it for the opposition but for the Blues overhauling our cousins from over the park was all that could realistically be achieved on the pitch but off it victory could well swell the coffers by galvanising season ticket renewals. Remaining unbeaten until the death could also work wonders for the club on the renewal stakes.
The day started like all the others with a trip to the ale house and while someone got them in a quick trip to the bookies and bets placed. Yet, for all that normality, you could not help but sense a carnival atmosphere as fans laughed and joked regarding our injury plight and hoped for all kind of player permutations as little was now riding on our season. Within that joviality was a sort of concealed worry that next season may be a watershed in the relationship between Club, Manager and Fans. Although most, in our wide group, have signed up again for next season many are waiting and wondering to see how the club respond to not only fans expectations but to player expectation as surely the better younger ones will be keen to see if the clubs ambition matches theirs.
Today showed we do have the framework to progress as we have a good number of positions nailed down but can we improve on the glaring few that on today?s evidence are just not good enough even against a poor Premier League side.
A poor first half produced little yet as early as the second minute a Hibbert diagonal ball was headed into the path of Beckford by a hapless Blackburn defender giving him a gilt edged chance but his execution resembled league 1 as the ball travelled high and wide. Baines got down the flank but his cross was headed away by Samba then Osman claimed a penalty for pushing in the box which the ref ignored before Jags followed up a set piece and his shot was deflected behind. The Blues were dominant but without any cutting edge and on 15mins Heitinga put the ball out of play to ensure he left the field clutching his hamstring area and allowed Rodwell to come on after his injury and see the game out without mishap. The half meandered on with little incident except for a bit of a wild challenge by Baines causing the Ref. to speak to him but not book him. (Lucky lad in my book) Bilyaletdinov set up Neville but he shot over instead of recording his second goal in three years. We ploughed on looking the better team and having plenty of possession but were quite unable to capitalise where it matters and their keeper had little to do. Osman did have a chance in first half injury time but fired straight at the keeper.
Half-time and the chat centred not on today?s game but more of what the close season might bring. The publishing of the clubs finances seems to have spooked quite a few and whilst next season seems to be assured as far as the season ticket population are concerned this summer?s dealings may well decide whether that will continue. Over to you those that matter.
Second half and within minutes it is clear words have been exchanged as our whole outlook and endeavour have changed for the better. It could be said that Blackburn had done the same but our tempo and cohesion were better than theirs and it was no surprise when the disappointing Gueye galvanised himself and burst forward but fired well over. Then Baines had a 30yarder shave a post. 10mins. in and Bilyaletdinov burst into life and had a shot deflected for a corner. Gueye took it short to Osman who no more than looked up and fired unerringly into the net. All were delighted and as the game restarted you could just see Blackburn had wilted. We continued to dominate yet sometimes being lacklustre and giving the opposition a sniff and having to douse it.
On 65 mins, Gueye was hooked and the faithful gave him a good ovation which hopefully may help him overcome his self confessed nerves. Coleman came on and in no time at all was at his best infuriating self as his electric pace took him beyond defenders and into the box only to frustrate everyone by firing spectacularly wide. In true Seamus fashion though he was soon back for more both in attack and defence. Hibbert who was having a very good game frustrated their number 20 who retaliated with a rash tackle and was booked.
On 75 mins, Coleman burst into the box and was sent flying by the much talked about Phil Jones and even this ref had no option but to point to the spot. Baines lined it up but was kept waiting to take it for some time as Beckford preferred to jostle on the edge of the box and was lucky not to be booked whilst all the time putting more pressure on the taker. Some footballers you just have to wonder about in the brain department. Baines stepped up, smashed it home, we all celebrated and it made Beckford?s shenanigans look foolish and quite redundant. Two penalties in three games. Wow!!
We were now seeing the game out with some ease but it would not be us unless we produced self inflicted heart in mouth moments and so it was when a high bouncing ball should have seen Howard take charge, instead he left it between Baines and Jags who collided in comic fashion presenting Pederson with what seemed an open goal but he carried on the comic cuts scenario by hacking hopelessly wide. It was us at the death with the last chance as Bilyaletdinov had a header tipped over by the keeper.
Final whistle and all left making of it what they would considering we were under strength and Blackburn desperate for points the game suggested we were in the better position. MotM Osman with special mention of Hibbert and Baines.
Today?s Ref. intrigued me as he seemed one of those that rile me the most. He seemed to know the rule book inside out and probably has it as his bedtime reading. I could not argue with his decisions per se but to me he seemed to have no real feel for the game and a lot of stoppages just didn?t help the flow of the game and as a spectacle it suffered.
Overall a bit of end-of-season game for us and a nightmare for them. The crowd a little quiet today although we did respond to some Blackburn taunts after the second goal went in by chanting ?Going Down? ? ?Going Down?. It was good to see both Rodwell and Coleman reappear and both seemed to cope well, in fact I thought Rodwell had a quiet but influential game in the middle of the park. I picked up my Utd and Wigan tickets and what a disparity in prices, makes you wonder it it?s worth it. ---- Yeah! ?Cause it is.
Three away - two at home. What will the points tally be? What position will we finish? How many players will be back? Will we be left looking back at what might have been? So many questions that can only be answered on the field. Are they up for it? Are we up for it? See you there to find out.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 16/04/2011 at 23:43:52
I am really surprised at how well we have performed in the past few weeks despite the long injury list... BUT we still have gaps in ability to improve upon compared to the top teams and I still think our best players all season have been defenders. Osman is having his best ever spell but he is only a journeyman Premier League standard player in my humble opinion. I just wish we had ONE player who could lift us and excite our loyal fans.
We tend to grind out results rather than dominate opposing sides with flowing football. But, hey, it's better than relegation battles!!!
I hope that we can produce one or two new additions that can really get the crowd roaring next season and perhaps a fairy godfather to bail us out financially... here's hoping!!!
2 Posted 17/04/2011 at 00:13:35
3 Posted 17/04/2011 at 00:29:46
4 Posted 17/04/2011 at 04:47:28
I wonder if his sudden improvement is due to being fully fit and not playing with injuries and injections.
5 Posted 17/04/2011 at 06:37:28
6 Posted 17/04/2011 at 06:38:09
7 Posted 17/04/2011 at 08:14:01
8 Posted 17/04/2011 at 08:45:45
9 Posted 17/04/2011 at 09:32:54
His performances have been consistent game after game (with the odd exception of being caught out of position once or twice). In the main I believe without his contribution we would be nowhere near where we are right now.
Yes, we have had big name players out at various stages of the season but, in my opinion, we must be thankful that Leighton Baines has remained fit for the entire season as he is one player that would have been a huge loss to the side had he been out for any considerable time.
10 Posted 17/04/2011 at 10:53:29
11 Posted 17/04/2011 at 11:33:53
What exactly does that writing mean?
12 Posted 17/04/2011 at 11:51:14
13 Posted 17/04/2011 at 11:48:40
14 Posted 17/04/2011 at 11:36:55
15 Posted 17/04/2011 at 12:01:41
I thought Beckford did ok, ran all day with some pretty poor service to him (barring the first minute miss). It was pretty much hoofs to him in the first half. Why do we keep needing to play like that for a half before coming out in the 2nd and playing football?
Only Ossie and Baines were playing in the first half! Baines should be up there for Player of the Season in my view, his performances are quality, and he never gets tired. I just don't like it when he has to head the ball out of our box.
16 Posted 17/04/2011 at 12:10:13
And thank you Ossie but you are starting to sound like Stevie G in post match interview!! You need to sort that out!!
17 Posted 17/04/2011 at 16:47:33
Another season of what might have been... But still nice to finish strongly.
18 Posted 17/04/2011 at 18:42:15
19 Posted 17/04/2011 at 22:33:16
20 Posted 17/04/2011 at 23:02:09
21 Posted 18/04/2011 at 00:41:04
22 Posted 18/04/2011 at 02:42:48
Don't agree with you nor James. I think Gueye's looking good. Like much of the team he was bit off in the first half, but looked controlled and intelligent in his passing in the second. His shot was not way over either - about a foot it looked to me.
And no-one with lots of dough's gonna buy us. Best not to even think that way. If we hit the jackpot, great. If not, that's us. I'm used to it.
23 Posted 18/04/2011 at 09:40:09
Ozzie is another of the decent premiership players who 'do a job' but lack that bit extra to be a standout..
Its not so long ago that he and Hibbo were regularly criticised on this site...many fans said that neither were worth their place in the team...BUT, they have never given less than their best..
24 Posted 21/04/2011 at 20:00:07
And with regards to Beckford: I think it has to be officially said that Moyes's gamble, after a slow start, is paying off. And as he's currently the joint sixth highest English goalscorer in the Premier League, and the second highest scoring uncapped English player (after another lower leaguer made good, DJ Campbell)...
How far is he from the now dubious 'honour' of a come hither from the unseemly shambolic seediness that we used to call the national team?
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