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From my seat: Stoke City (A)

By Ken Buckley :  02/01/2011 :  Comments (25) :

Blues fail to rule Britannia

A promising looking line-up saw Saha get the nod this week to start up front. No Yak in the squad so either he is injured or off to pastures new. The faithful had turned up in numbers and were determined to give the Potters fans a shout for their money.

It was indeed a Blue roar of ?Penalty? that resounded after less than a minute when Saha was felled in the box but our Ref Mr Marriner waved play on, I could only assume it was because, in keeping with most EPL refs, that sort of foul is ok in the box but worth a free-kick and a yellow card in any other area of the field.

The Blues continued to press, Saha turned sharply and fed Coleman but his cross was too near the keeper. Cahill had a good run at their defence and fed in Pienaar but yet again the South African produced a powder-puff shot.

We had a scare when a regulation Stoke long ball seemed to bounce between our centre backs and in a flash Fuller was one-on-one with our keeper but he dillied and dallied and made a mess of a gilt-edged chance.

The Blues were now making all the running but yet again floundered in the box when good build-up play had promised more. Wouldn?t you just know it when, mid-way through the half, another long ball was headed out to Etherington and the combined efforts of Coleman and Neville failed to stop him getting a cross in which caught Jags out of p,osition and Jones powered home; silence and disbelief from the faithful told its own story.

From the kick-off we had a chance to equalize and, yes, you guessed it we failed to take it. Then Baines made a great run into the box, crossed and found Cahill unmarked but he headed back across goal when usually he has those for breakfast.

Next Saha burst clear, the Stoke keeper raced out of his area and felled him, only a yellow and a free kick said the ref. If it had been in the area you get the impression it would have been waived play on. Arteta shaped to take the free kick, I turned to my mate and said "100/1 he hits the wall" ? he did. The half ended with Pienaar interchanging well with Saha but Pienaar?s shot took a deflection that left the keeper stranded but the ball went agonisingly over the bar.

Half-time and the chat was that it just didn?t look like it was to be our day. We had mostly dominated against no more than a gritty well organised Stoke team, yet it was they who were in the lead.

Again, the Blues started the half the better but the best we could offer up to the hour mark was a volley from Pienaar that, although hit with some power, was completely miscued and arced away from goal spectacularly, I almost choked as I tried to groan and laugh at the same time. Stoke continued to threaten with the long ball up to Jones but we dealt with the second ball well.

On the hour mark the manager made two substitutions which left me a little baffled; he took off Neville and Arteta, moved Coleman to right back and sent on Osman and Big Vic. Vic went right mid and had no pace where Coleman had plenty... and Osman came on and with arms waving gave a rallying call and immediately launched himself into a wild tackle as if he meant business then became anonymous for the rest of the game.

Soon after, Beckford replaced Saha; whilst these changes were being taken on board, a Stoke free kick was lumped into the box where a bit of a melee took place and the ball ended up in the back of our net, it transpired that it was put there by Jags ? he his improving on the ?og? front.

We almost got one back in our next attack when Cahill was brought down and the resulting Baines free kick left the keeper rooted but agonisingly curled just beyond the post. We seemed to lose heart after this and the game sort of petered out as far as we were concerned and Stoke finished the stronger and with a little more composure could have added to their tally.

Final whistle and the faithful trudged away quietly muttering and wondering if we will ever start to finish off good approach play. I noted that the only time the Stoke keeper had to dive and make a worthwhile save was in the 89th minute ? and therein lies the crux of our problem.

My MotM today was Distin ? I thought they should have given the captain's armband to him when Arteta went off. Baines was our other player who stood out.

Overall, another game of ?can?t score ? wont score? that does not go down too well with the fans and to think we will be further weakened on the goal threat front with Cahill being away for a month or so. The manager has a big job on to sort this out and the players also need to step up and show that bit more devil and togetherness before lack of confidence starts to spread throughout the team.

Many blame either the board, the manager and players or all three yet I have to admit I have not a clue as to what our real problem is this season as we have shown we can play good joined-up stuff, we have shown we can finish moves off, and we have shown we can be resolute in defence but never on a consistent basis, leaving us the fans to never know which Everton will turn up because we can sure as hell do the opposite of the above.

I remain optimistic on the basis that football is such an indeterminate game that fortunes can change either way in a trice... plus we do have players of sufficient quality who can play to a much higher standard than has been shown to date.

On looking at this season's EPL, consistency is not the byword for any team so the Spurs game should be a game where players and fans come together, with the players giving the fans something to roar about and the fans giving the players that night-match atmosphere that has the ?old lady? rocking. Well I hope so anyway. See you there.

A Happy New Year to one and all.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Steve Cotton
1   Posted 02/01/2011 at 17:15:35

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You live and die by the mistakes of the Ref, I am afraid, Ken. We should've had a penalty and twice our players were running through and got taken out by the last man; on another day it would have been penalty in the first case and possibly two red crads for their players for the last-man challenges.

OK, we were still poor... but if decisions like that had gone against Man Utd, there would be uproar and a full inquest on MotD, whereas our bad decisions were skirted over.

Incidentally, Liverpool got battered and scored a completely offside goal in injury time. In their case, their fans ran off cheering into the night with a bad decision going for them (pact with the devil etc...); we are not usually that lucky.

Larry Boner
2   Posted 02/01/2011 at 17:44:30

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Steve, Saha was outside of the area when he was fouled, Moyes complaining we should have had a penalty was just clutching at straws.

We never had a worthwhile attack in the 2nd half, a shit goalkeeper never had a save to make, where have we heard all this before?

Stoke had two other clear chances that Fuller missed, could have been a humiliation in the end.

It was either Cruyff or Gullitt who said "Just because you have more possession of the ball, doesn't mean you are in control of the game" ? Never was a truer word spoken about a team like Everton.

Steve Cotton
3   Posted 02/01/2011 at 17:55:57

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Larry if you know the rules (as explained on MotD a few times) it is where the player lands that counts. If a player starts holding another player outside the area and they end up inside the area, the result is a penalty kick. The boot caught Saha on the edge of the area and by the time he landed he was about 2 yards in the box. All moot anyway as the ref thought it was perfectly legal.

I take your point that Stoke had a few good chances to our zilch, which is a different argument about Moyes picking players who are not performing.

My only argument is that when decisions go for you, as the the RedShite game, it makes all the difference.

Fair enuff?
Elgin Joshua
4   Posted 02/01/2011 at 18:05:49

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Hi Ken, as always a great read.

Do I detect a sense of despair and exasperation from you? To me your views have always been calmed and collected but today, gosh.

"100/1 he hits the wall."

"I almost choked as I tried to groan and laugh at the same time."

I am seriously getting worried now.

Larry Boner
5   Posted 02/01/2011 at 18:28:55

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Steve, bullshit ? it is where the offence takes place, not where you land, or we would be paying £20M for a kangaroo, based on it being able to dive 20 yards. I agree, though, that if it had been Gerrard or Torres then a penalty would have been given.

I found it amazing that 3 people who have played in the World Cup, Lineker, Shearer and Lawrenson, couldn't figure out that Cole was offside when the ball was crossed, although neither did the ref or his assistant.

Andy Peers
6   Posted 02/01/2011 at 18:47:37

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Moyes played a striker who has not scored in 24 games and almost a year in Saha. Beckford: 2 league goals, and Yak: 1 league goal. These forwards are playing in a system that does not work for them, so why doesn't Moyes commit to a strategy that enables these guys to score as they used too. Quite simple really!!!
Brian Waring
7   Posted 02/01/2011 at 19:14:50

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Steve, as Larry said it where the foul takes place. If you go by your rules, a player could be fouled 3 yards outside the box, but leap into the penalty box.

Also, the penalty incident was in the 1st minute, we still had 89mins left to win the game.
Charles King
8   Posted 02/01/2011 at 20:09:55

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Have to disagree with "our good approach play".

It's not good because it's predictable and comfortably defended. Not always being booted in the air cannot hide the inevitability... like Heathrow ? the flight is merely delayed.
Trevor Lynes
9   Posted 02/01/2011 at 20:20:45

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I agree Charles #8... it's a fallacy that we are creating (and missing) loads of chances. Every side that gets relegated is 'UNLUCKY' according to the blinkered fans who will not face up to facts. Other teams miss more chances than we do and we only create outfield chances from the left side ? when did we work a chance through the midfield???

If you watch the better sides, you will see forwards who run off the ball and make space... midfielders who FIND them with decent passes and who sometimes score themselves.

If Cahill does not score, it's the likes of Baines and Coleman who chip in. Where else are the goals to come from????

Denis Richardson
10   Posted 02/01/2011 at 20:20:09

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Larry - love the 'or we would be paying £20M for a kangaroo, based on it being able to dive 20 yards'! Had me in stiches.

Am expecting the worst but hoping for the best come Jan and hopefully getting some new players in. The Yak not even being in the bench would suggest he's on the way out - using his wages there must surely be room for at least one decent loan signing.

Here's hoping.........
David Hallwood
11   Posted 02/01/2011 at 20:30:02

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Not so Trevor Lynes (#9), according to all the stats Everton are up there with Chelsea & Arsenal with shots on goal, the problem with Everton is there for all to see. Good report as ever, Ken.
Steve Higham
12   Posted 02/01/2011 at 21:31:47

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The problem we have now is that the PL has changed in the last two seasons.Teams now go out to win by playing mostly expansive football.

The trouble we have, is a manger who is set in his ways and knows only one way to play? keep it tight nick a goal and defend like hell.

There is no doubt that most teams now play more open football and Moyes just cannot fathom how to do this.That is why we play the way we do, the team go out wearing a strait jacket ? and Moyes, I am afraid, is no Harry Houdini.

Trevor Lynes
13   Posted 03/01/2011 at 00:39:29

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David #11 ? shots on goal does not equate to chances. How many shots 'on goal' have come from our strikers???

Be honest with yourself and stop blinding yourself with stats... when did we create a real chance from midfielders creativity???

I would love to see one of our strikers score a few and us win by 3 or 4 clear goals...
Andrew Lum
14   Posted 03/01/2011 at 01:37:16

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Steve #12 ? spot on! Totally agree with you. What makes it even more frustrating is that on paper, we have a better squad of players than most teams this season. We can, and should be doing better.
Andrew James
15   Posted 03/01/2011 at 01:36:42

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Sitting behind the goal at Upton Park I was shocked at how few shots we had. Not even speculative ones or pile drivers. Robert Green looked bored.
Bob Parrington
16   Posted 03/01/2011 at 03:04:10

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Andy (6)........ there has to be some truth in what you stated. The question is, "What is it that Moyes has to change in the system to achieve this?"

Against Stoke we suffered from two really bad defensive errors (even though the Jones header was excellent, Pip should not have over-committed on the touch line, allowing Etherington to cream him).
Perhaps we need a good right back (defensively) and with some height), play 4 mid-field and 2 strikers.

COYB
Terry Downes
17   Posted 03/01/2011 at 07:12:40

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At some point this week, one of our superstar arse lickers, either Neville, Jagielka, Osman, Howard ? the list could go on ? will go on the os and say we need to pull together good results will come we sure of it blah blah blah.

Also people will come on here and blast Moyes and others will stick up for him ? all a bit Groundhog Day...

The bottom line is unless (1) we all stay away for a home game, or (2) we all stand to a man and shout long and hard "Moyes Out, Kenwright Out," nothing will be done... and I can't see either happening so it's carry on regardless.

Roman Sidey
18   Posted 03/01/2011 at 08:51:58

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That's it Terry. Toffees fans will still want to turn out and watch the game. Classic car crash syndrome. If Liverpool had 9000 empty seats the other night, then hopefully Goodison will be similarly empty on Wednesday, which could make Moyes open his stupid ginger eyes. I, for one, will not watch another game this season if Moyes solution to losing Cahill is the predictable "Fellaini up, Nev into midfield and Hibbo to right back" that we all know is only 48 hours away.
Bob Parrington
19   Posted 03/01/2011 at 09:11:56

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Terry and Roman ..... It's the new year.... don't depress me with realism! I was sick enough after the Stoke game.
COYB
Joe Bibb
20   Posted 03/01/2011 at 10:07:59

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Cahill not being there has been known by Moyes since the season started ad the only player who really has experience of Cahill's role is Bily, he plays in that role for Russia and did so for his former club, it made Moyes pay £11 million for him. so Moyes has had many chances to try Billy in that position but as per usual Moyes plays the lad out of position and ruins his confidence.

Moyes says before the West Ham game that he has no centre half and plays Hibbert out of position yet on the bench is anther young centre half Duffy, another lad who must think Moyes doesn't trust me, the list is endless Rodwell sits and watches unfit out of form players in his position, the lad must get despondent, and yet the Myth that Moyes gives youngsters a chance goes on.

Moyes would rather play someone out of position than trust a youngster in that role. Coleman only gets a game now because at right wing he is doing well but Moyes doesn't start him at right back because he doesn't trust him, the lad knows this so once again a young player loses confidence in his rightful role. As long as Moyes is in charge we will win nothing. if you haven't clicked on to that after eight and a half years then you also have a problem.

Roman Sidey
21   Posted 03/01/2011 at 11:59:32

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You've hit the nail on the head Joe. Last season when we had all the injuries at the same time, Moyes came out before one game saying that he just had the bare 11 to take the field. I had been one of the youngsters on the bench for that game, I wouldn't have even put my boots on, and I probably would have left the club based on such insulting comments.

Can anyone tell me what the point is of having players in the squad if they are NEVER being used. Everyone knows that this month is Bily's chance to get a decent run of games and kickstart his EPL career. Moyes will fuck it up though.

For the record, I really hope I'm wrong with the Moyes slagging and that he does have the ability to change. I don't have anything against the man, but he is harming the club's onfield reputation, which, during all these years of BK's lies, was at least one of mild respect.
Dick Fearon
22   Posted 03/01/2011 at 12:10:13

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Roman #18, You did not bring Osman into your equation. Against Spurs you might catch a glimpse of the little chap before does his disapearing act.
Against Stoke I was gob smacked when he actually made a tackle. He even got booked for it, amazing!
Steve Harris
23   Posted 03/01/2011 at 13:23:24

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Agree with Terry that being an Evertonian these days is like Groundog Day, I don't know why anyone thinks that it's all suddenly going to change after 9 years of negativity. Even with the quite high league placings, it's mostly been score one then just sit back on it.

You could count on one hand how many start to finish great games we`ve had where we've completely dominated and took teams to the cleaners, it's always been just do enough. The most depressing part for me is knowing, even before the game starts, that even if we win it's going to be a struggle and it's gonna be a hanging on, backs to the wall job.

The thing is, I'll still be there Wednesday night, hoping and preying for an all out, expansive, attacking display but fear that if we do, it's sadly likely to come from the opposition.

Thomas James
24   Posted 03/01/2011 at 21:27:51

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Andy Peers #6 Exactly. We continue to deploy a system which does not suit the squad we have.

I my opinion, to use 4-5-1 you need

1. A striker who can play up front by himself - None of our strikers seem to be able to play as a lone striker consistently well.
2. Pace on the wing. Our midfield is packed with central midfielders and NO real wingers, we have players playing out of position to compensate.

This season I feel Moyes is being found out. The system needs to change and if better people than I decide that requires a management change then that is required and looking ever more critical.
Roman Sidey
25   Posted 03/01/2011 at 23:22:14

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Dick, I don't mention Osman for the same reason I try not to mention Hibbo. It opens up a can of worms and my post ends up being 2000 words long when I describe how I feel about him and that Moyes is blind for player either of them out of choice.

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