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At least we're playing with style

By Stuart Ansell :  30/08/2010 :  Comments (34) :
Yes, we have 1 point after 3 starts; and yes, it's our worst start in 13 years... Pure frustration, maybe, but on the whole we are playing good stylish football and don't deserve to be where we are.

The first game against Blackburn... a notably hard place to go and get a result. Okay, we didn't play great, but we were not the worst team on the pitch... Blackburn were terrible and if it wasn't for that schoolboy error by Howard, we would've got at least a draw if not better.

Again against Wolves we were the better team on the day. To me, the foul on Heitinga was obvious ? in slow motion, Heitinga got to the ball first for the Wolves player to go over the top and catch him before the ball... but we know what happend next. Referee error, not player error.

And yesterday I was just pulling my hair out... I agree Villa had a few good chances in the game but you would expect that from the home team. If you read the stats you would've put money on an Everton win. But again, lady luck didn't seem to shine on us and we couldn't put the ball in the back of the net.

The team and Moyes have had a lot of flak, but one thing I can say is I look forward to watching Everton now; we are playing football in a style and manner that we we haven't seen since the 80s. Take us back 10 years and I dreaded watching the boys, it was nothing more than hoofball, we had no possession of the ball and relied on dogged defending and a snatched goal to get a result.

Moyes and Bill have built a team over a number of years that we can be proud of. There have been times when Moyes could've been shown the door but Bill stuck with him and ? even though there are a few that believe he should be off ? many of us love the fact that he's our manager. He has formed a tight unit that play as a team and in most cases seem happy to play for the club.

Our next Premier League game is against Manchester United. Obviously a difficult game but, on yesterday's performance, a win isn't out of the question. I remember the season when we had another terrible start with hardly any points on the board after 9 games and Cahill got that magnificent overhead goal against Chelsea to get a 1-1 draw which kicked off our season. Hopefully a win against Man Utd may do just the same.

What I like about our team now is that so many people have such differing opinions on the starting 11 and even what formation to play... this just has to go to prove the strength in depth we have now. Moyes again has had a limited budget to acquire new talent but again he seems to have turned up a few potential gems in Gueye, Mucha and Silva.

Beckford has been dropped straight into the starting 11 but I think he still has a bit to learn. He shows willing, but at the moment just lacks the composure, class and good decision-making at times. We have to give the lad time though, but in the meantime we need goals to come from other areas.

Like so many, I question Moyes's starting 11 and I have to admit I get really frustrated by his late and often negative substitutions... but he is the guy that has built a team on a shoestring, a team I love to watch, and a team that gives me a true belief that we can break into the top 4 and win some silverwear. It's a belief that was only a dream 10 years ago.

We have some fine prospects in the likes of Shane Duffy, Rodwell and Coleman. But we have to let Moyes integrate these players into the team as he deems best.

I think we do really lack one thing at the moment, a truly great striker on top of his game... goals win games. We seemed to be punished every time we make a stupid mistake but can't put the ball in the back of the net after countless attempts. I'm sure it will come... I just wish we had the Yak of 2 years ago.

I know we'd love to see Donovan back as he did seem to complete the team but I think we have players that can fill this void: Anichebe showed glimpses that he has the potential to give it a go. And even Coleman yesterday showed he could be a potential option... I just love the lad's drive and determination ? in that game against Spurs last year he was bloody brilliant!!

All-in-all a really frustrating start to the season... but we shouldn't give up on the lads just yet. Let's get behind the boys and watch as those points build up on the board. We were 17th at Christmas last year, I'll be surprised if we're not in the top 8 this year. Hopefully with the class and depth in the squad now we'll be more than ready to chase the top teams in the run-in. Points are going to be shared more between the top teams so it's going to be closer than ever. Everton Forever!!

Reader Comments

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David Hallwood
1   Posted 30/08/2010 at 13:54:29

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Stuart, that's a fine piece of managerspeak. The simple truth is that pre-season we had expectations of top 4, or even outsiders for the title. Compare and contrast the real title contenders, when they play as well as we did yesterday they run up a cricket score, and when they're off their game they'll grind out something from it.

Not ruthless or clinical enough, and the midfield need to be a lot more mobile.
Richard Reeves
2   Posted 30/08/2010 at 14:12:11

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Stuart, there's nothing wrong with being optimistic, I've been guilty of it for the last six weeks. You're right that our play is better to watch now than it was ten years ago under Smith and I would say better than that Dogs of War hoofball garbage from Big Joe's reign which began maybe during Walkers time but there have been a lot of games that we've had to watch that have been poor in quality, tactics and substitutions.

We have got a really good squad and a lot of promising youngsters but what frustrates myself and a lot of other supporters is Moyes's defensive mindset and his simply WRONG team selections and substitutions. He is a good manager but seems to ruin things for himself and us after working so hard in getting most things right.

Martin Mason
3   Posted 30/08/2010 at 14:43:50

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Stuart, I agree with you completely. Football can be over analysed, it's chaotic rather than scientific but we are doing the right things and it will come right. Moyes's eccentricities are a cross we have to bear but I'm still positive that we have a very good team in the making. Three games we should have won but no panic yet.
Frankie Brannan
4   Posted 30/08/2010 at 14:46:38

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What's this about "deserve"?

We are where we are, as David H says ? not ruthless or clinical; teams will give us or let us have the ball as they know we will do nothing with it.
Ed Fitzgerald
5   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:13:40

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Yes, we must be more ruthless in front of goal but it is actually our defending that has really let us down and cost us a point at Blackburn and Villa and two more against Wolves. I know Fellaini made a mistake yesterday but Jagielka looked as culpable to me.
Paul Olsen
6   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:13:58

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Ah the cynics of Toffeeweb.

As the first poster, I also now look forward to watching Everton play, not so some 7-8 years ago. We play nice, attractive football.

We've had a poor run of luck, but we can still improve, therefore it's only natural that people question performances from the team and manager.

What astounds me however is the amount of really, really abuse some people like to throw around when we lose (or don't win in style). It is rather sad, and some people actually never, ever find a positive.

Well, I guess that's therapy as well.
Alun Jones
7   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:25:11

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Yep, we should have won yesterday... just as much as Man City should have probably won at Sunderland and maybe Spurs should have beaten Wigan. I have lost count of how many Premier League games i have watched when the best team gets beat 1-0, it happened and it will happen again to us and some of the other top teams in the league, so let's not get too carried away with this reverse.

Our general play in their half of the field was encouraging with a fair bit of invention being shown against what was a pretty aggressive negative Villa side. A bit more worrying, however, was our lack of composure at the back with Jagielka and Distin not looking that confident in possession or distribution and I always felt less than secure when they were in possession on our half way line.

Still, it's early days and I have not changed my view that we have a genuine chance of a top 4 place this season.

Ed Fitzgerald
8   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:20:20

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Paul

If my post come across as cynical it was unintended. I am much happier with the style of football we are playing. My only worry is Moyes himself may lose his nerve and revert to a style that plays the percentages and caution.
Brian Waring
9   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:44:26

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Paul, Stuart, I have seen us play some of the shittest football I have ever seen from an Everton side during Moyes's tenure.
David Price
10   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:54:02

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Any truth in the rumour that some guy in Pakistan has made a bundle on betting on a prem team getting 18 corners and no goals?
Brian Donnelly
11   Posted 30/08/2010 at 15:43:09

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?But can't put the ball in the back of the net after countless attempts?.

The above isn?t true. The reality is that we have played 3 poor sides and created very few genuine chances. Yes, we dominated Villa and it looked good but it wasn?t effective football.

As for Blackburn they should have scored in the first minute and once they got the goal, they then sat back.

Trying to blame the Wolves goal on the referee is also wrong ? it may or may not have been a foul. The problem was that either Heitinga or Saha should have got to the ball first, but Saha didn?t go for the ball and Heitinga dithered.

When we start saying how unlucky we are, it?s missing the point. We are very poor in the last third of the field and our defence, at the moment, just isn?t good enough. We have good players and the potential to beat anyone, but until we sort something out on the right hand side we will struggle against most P/L teams.
Shaun Brennan
12   Posted 30/08/2010 at 16:26:25

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Football has moved on a lot since ten years ago. A lot of teams were hoofing the ball then too. We were not the only ones; I hate hearing that excuse.

The thing is, this great team that you mention is one-dimensional, slow, easy to intimidate and suss out. There is NO PLAN B.

At the start of the season, I was expecting wonders. But to be honest I got swept away along with most of all the self-generated hype of "We will finish 4th..." blah, blah blah.
Joe McMahon
13   Posted 30/08/2010 at 16:58:53

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"At least we're playing with style".....eeerrrr, no we apparently played ok in one game, which we still lost.
Sorry Stuart but "playing with style" involves pace and shots on target.

Stuart were you one of the many predicting a top 4 finish?
Stephen Kenny
14   Posted 30/08/2010 at 18:06:32

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I must be one of the few who does not think we're playing attractive football. We keep the ball by passing sideways or backwards, never pass through teams and the running off the ball and movement is almost non-existent. Invariably we work an okay crossing position and either the lone striker is crowded out or the delivery is poor.

The vast majority of teams in the Premier League are set up to soak up pressure and hit on the break and/or score from set-pieces so will happily allow us to dominate the ball. Villa yesterday was a classic example of this.

Beckford has had a bit of critcism recently but the fact is he's suffering from what every Everton striker has suffered from for the last 8 years: no service. IMO the striker's job is to put the ball in the net, with the rest of the team there to create the chances. How many chances have we created for him thus far? Again IMO he makes all the right runs and takes up some great positions that all natural goalscorers take. His touch isn't great but does he need to be involved in the build-up play when we're playing with five in midfield?

Once again, Moyes has failed to react during a game and change the result in a positive way for us. 1-0 down with a few minutes left and Heitinga comes on?
Stuart Ansell
15   Posted 30/08/2010 at 18:08:20

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That was a bit of editing by the ToffeeWeb team, I actually called it "It's not all doom and gloom".

Like all toffess, I was dreaming of a top 4 finish... but really only expecting to be in the mix with the other teams like Spurs, Liverpool, City probably not Villa this year. I really think it's going to be tight at the top. Just a shame the Toffees are stuck in the blocks once again at the start of the season. It's a long season, just wish people wouldn't give up on them so easily.

If you look at our transfer budget over the last 7-8 years we should realistically be a team hoping to get to the 40 points mark to stay up... but we actually have a team that can compete with the best in the Prem on our day... and give us fans a real belief we can make it into the top 4 and Champions League. We should be thankful that we actually have a team that provides us with a truthful optimism that we can achieve something great.

Like all fans I have my moans and groans about selection, substitutes.etc

If I wanted to be clinical or cynical like some people suggested, I would actually say that Jags doesn't look match fit or as sharp as he did before his injury. Felliani to me is still a few games from finding that pass and match sharpness... and Arteta is still far from his best.

I didn't understand why Moyes played so much of Coleman, Rodwell and Neville in the centre in so many games in the pre-season, and then in the first match put Neville as right back and did not play Rodwell and Coleman.

But, like I said, it's a long season and I'm just happy that we have a team and a manger that gives us a true belief that we can win some silverware and compete for one of those top spots.

3 points against United... come on!!

Andy Crooks
16   Posted 30/08/2010 at 18:59:00

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Brian Waring, I agree completely but this is where we are. However I think that Paul should think again regarding his "cynics of ToffeeWeb" comment. We are perfectly entitled to be cynical after a poor start. I am trying to be positive which my recent posts will suggest but I can understand the despair of many. There really is a lot I would like to say but I don't feel that following an unlucky defeat is the time to say it.

I agree with those who say that three games is too soon to be negative. I would ask those who believe in David Moyes to say when will be the time to talk of crisis.

Trevor Lynes
17   Posted 30/08/2010 at 18:57:49

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I fully agree with Stephen Kenny. As I have said many times, the striker needs good service... period!! We do keep the ball better by passing sideways and backwards BUT we are not finding the incisive pass that will create a proper chance.

Pienaar's effort was a solo piece of brilliance and he was genuinely unlucky in hitting the bar... BUT we are not shooting and falling back into the 'dead ball' way of scoring.

Villa very comfortably dealt with all our free kicks and almost all of our corners and so will all the rest of the Premier League teams. We are vulnerable on the break and Villa actually created better chances than we did despite our domination.

Fortunately I don't see games through blue-tinted glasses so I don't blame all our misfires on bad luck. Every striker who scores more than 20 goals in a season needs ammunition and he depends on midfielders to create them.

The reason why the top teams like Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea score lots of goals is because their midfield players are better than the rest. Scholes has absolutely no real pace but he has a wonderful football brain and hits great long passes from deep positions and finds space for himself.

Unfortunately, Arteta has not really been at his best so far and we do not have anyone else to effectively do his job... a lot of the people who write to this column blame the likes of Hibbert, Jags and others for our malaise but we are missing GUILE from midfield. It is no good having a big gun if you have no bullets!!

Gary Hegarty
18   Posted 30/08/2010 at 19:40:43

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Looks like the Moyes bashers may be winning. Very strong links for the ginger one to Villa and now bookies favourites at 3-1 from 33-1 ? no smoke without fire. Are we shortly to become the real crisis club...
Chris Perry
19   Posted 30/08/2010 at 20:11:25

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Top 4 my arse with the bunch of mugs who played on Sunday. Then you read all sorts of articles by muppets like Hibbert, Osman etc saying we are not good enough. FFS, we know you two twats aren't!
Dennis Stevens
20   Posted 30/08/2010 at 19:51:18

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Gary, they may not want him if we don't buck up pretty soon!

I've plenty of respect for Moyes as a coach & what I've seen of his character is commendable too, however, Everton will survive without him as & when he departs. Over 8 years is a phenomenally long time for a football manager to remain in post, especially if the club hasn't won any silverware in that time.

Moyes has done a grand job moving us on from the position we were in when he arrived, but has he got what it takes to continue the progress & prove himself a great manager & not merely a good one? I think this is the season to find out & if he isn't capable of all we hope from him then a fresh start may be the healthiest way forward for both parties.

Michael Brien
21   Posted 30/08/2010 at 19:56:49

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Stuart - I don't consider myself to be a "doom monger", I do NOT think that all is lost just because we have 1 point from our first 3 games. However, I consider that yesterday we lost a game that we should have got a point from at very least and indeed we could have won. The fact that we didn't was I believe down to the over cautious tactics of David Moyes.

As Villa went into the match on the back of a 0-6 defeat at Newcastle and a 2-3 home loss to Rapid Vienna I would have thought that one didn't need to be an expert to figure out that the Villa defence might be a bit nervous. A canny manager, an adventurous manager would have looked to put some pressure on the Villa back 4 ? put a few testing crosses into their penalty area. However, I think Moyes formation of one striker ? and a Premier League rookie at that played into Villa's hands and gave them a respite after 2 very difficult games.

The majority of times Villa attacked, the attack ended up with some sort of attempt on goal. When we attacked, we seemed to be looking for the precise pass to create the text book attempt on goal. Sometimes you have to be direct, I lost count of the number of times we were in good shooting positions only to look to try and play yet another pass to try and make it the perfect attempt on goal.

If the object of the exercise was to walk the ball in the net then we were brilliant. But it wasn't ? if you score a goal you don't get any extra marks for "artistic merit".
Nearly 80 years ago, Everton signed Tommy Lawton basically to replace Dixie Dean. Lawton was a rookie ? much the same as Beckford is at Premier League level. Lawton was played alongside the great man for quite a few games ? it was even before my Dad's time, not just mine ? maybe a season before he took over the main role. The plan was that he would learn and would benefit from the support of an experienced colleague.

Yes we may be more tactically sophisticated these days but the principle is the same. To expect Beckford to play the role of lone striker is rather unfair and a lot of pressure on a player who is very inexperienced at Premier League level. Surely he would have benefitted as would the team I think from having Saha alongside him.

I think David Moyes is almost obsessed with 4-5-1. He is very cautious and I think that over cautiousness and lack of adventure is going to cost us.

Moyes bashers!!!! Do me a favour the guy seems to be believing his own publicity. No manager is above criticism. Face the facts ? he got outwitted yesterday by a rookie manager.

Chris Matheson
22   Posted 30/08/2010 at 20:22:50

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I am with Stephen at 14 and Trever or 17.

We are not playing good football at the moment. Sure we pass the ball around but we do little with it. We play to feet and rarely to space, so our attacks are ponderously slow. We tend to be one-dimensional in attack - usually out wide then high crosses played in. As Trevor says, strikers can only score if they have service and we aren't giving any to ours, other than a few high balls punted in.

We rarely attack quickly on the break (Beckford's against Wolves when he should have passed to Johnny being the one example so far that springs to mind).

We defend corners with 11 men instead of leaving someone on the half way line - basic stuff.

Until we are quicker into attack and quicker to get shots in we'll continue to struggle to score. Fancy short passing may impress superficially but without incision, some speed and running off the ball we will continue to struggle,
Talek Cox
23   Posted 30/08/2010 at 21:08:09

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I agree with Brian Donnelly that the fact that we are poor in the last third is a but of a problem.

I would love to see Moyes sign another striker just before the window closes but i can't see that happening with the funds, maybe two strikers on the field would give us that cutting edge which we crave so much. Also I don't like the idea of Rodwell playing on the right; personally I would have played Arteta on the right and Rodwell in the middle with Felli and who knows, when Yakubu is fit we will have more striking options.

On the bright side, i think we are playing good football and were unfortunate in all three games, Man Utd next but after that Newcastle, Fulham and Birmingham, all winable games.

COYB
Martin Mason
24   Posted 31/08/2010 at 01:25:38

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Some may get their wish. Betting is suspended on Moyes going to Villa. For me it represents a disaster for Everton and could see them take their place rightfully as a small club - in the Championship.
Dennis Stevens
25   Posted 31/08/2010 at 01:33:47

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Yeh, football's a funny old game!
Richard Harris
26   Posted 31/08/2010 at 04:03:01

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If our last three games have been stylish then find me the contact details for John Barnes' tailor from a few years back :0)
Michael Brien
27   Posted 31/08/2010 at 09:02:59

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Martin, I have been very critical of Moyes... but it is not a case of "wishing he would go" ? it's a case of wishing that he would be more adventurous and flexible in his tactics. There is no chance of any betting scandal on what formation Everton will play, whether we are playing Manchester United in the Premier League or a non-League team in the FA Cup ? Moyes will always go with 4-5-1.
Jon Cox
28   Posted 31/08/2010 at 09:41:22

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So if Moyes does go, who to replace him with?

Maybe after 8/9 years things are becoming stale. Who knows? There's a lot rubbish managers out there and most seem happy just to ride the merry-go-round of failure.

I'll throw my tuppence worth into the ring. If Moyesie should go then, I would go for someone with a bit of mental flamboyance such as Venables.

It is said that we have no guile on the pitch and I for one agree. This comes from the personification of the guy calling the shots. Venables has an awful lot in his locker. He has the guile and he's a shrewed geezer, plus, he has an excellent attacking outlook and has great experience in Europe and on the International stage.

Euro 96' anyone.

No-one is bigger than the club, players or manager.

PS Talek, don't be late in for your tea or your mum will go mad!!!

COYB
Chris Stewart
29   Posted 31/08/2010 at 11:16:19

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"Euro 96' anyone"

Yeah I seem to remember that tournament from 14 years ago!!!

Jon Cox
30   Posted 31/08/2010 at 11:57:39

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Good Chris then you'll also remember that we were a fantastic attacking side with style and penache and had this thing for scoring goals for fun and wiping Holland of the pitch.

Just because it was 14 years ago doesn't mean the guy who instigated it could do a job for us if Davey decides to vacate the hotseat.

Not that he will of course. Come tomorrow and he'll still be our manager so no panic.
I was merely trying to stimulate a "what if" scenario.

COYB
Paul Oakes
31   Posted 31/08/2010 at 22:29:36

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I cant say I am surprised that Beckford has had no service. The lad is clueless with the ball, completely out of depth.

He is a league 1 player and that's all he is. To suggest he is good enough is quite hilarious imo.

Whenever had the ball on Sunday he simply did not know what to do with the thing.

It's one thing to have all these strikers and yet non of them know how to hit a barn door 10 yards away.

Stephen Spenny you say that the strikers are not scoring because of lack of service? Me and you must have watched a completely different match on Sunday.
How many shots did Saha miss? For what it's worth when he came on he was easily our busiest player. Taking nothing away from Coleman, but when he was off the ball, he looked completely and utterly lost.

I am not a fan of Yobo, he was a stalwart when he first came and I am pleased to see him go, I wish him the very best of luck, but at the same time to get no one is criminal.

I think the only solution to the terrible terrible mess we are in at the moment, is to get Kenwright out. It's no use moaning about the situation, enough is enough and that man will take us down the plughole with him.

Guys time to wake up and see the reality, it's time to get agent Kenwright out, and now before it gets any worse. We can't compete with anyone, and we are firmly going backwards with the spending which equates to no new signings and very soon the loss of our players who actually want to achieve something with their careers, I would not begrudge them it.

Kenwright out!!
Paul Oakes
32   Posted 31/08/2010 at 22:41:24

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If Moyes goes, I guarantee Kenwright and his board will go with him.
Stephen Kenny
33   Posted 01/09/2010 at 07:00:40

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Paul,

He play's on the shoulder of the last defender. It doesn't matter if he's shit with the ball, so is fillipo Inzaghi. With the right service I.e. through ball's past defenders or pull back's from the byline we will see what he does best. We only got behind thier defense twice. once in the first half once in the second both times the final ball was poor.

I watched the game from about four rows from the pitch. Maybe you and I watched the same game we just have different expectationsin terms of service?

I agree that Saha had a few half chances, but I'd hardly say he missed any sitters.
Matthew Mackey
34   Posted 03/09/2010 at 10:12:24

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One penetrative pass forward is better than 20 "keep ball" passes across the midfield.

I think you know where i'm coming from here.

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