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A point at Craven Cottage

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I went to Craven Cottage and was pleasantly surprised and very frustrated in equal measures. I thought the away fans, especially in the first half, were excellent while Fulham could barely be heard. Here's my thoughts on the players...

Howard ? quiet first half but coped well with the numerous corners they had in the second half although they were poor up front.

Neville ? he might be an organiser but he cannot organise a decent cross when needed. One after the other was overhit. Their lack of bite meant he wasn't tested defensively.

Distin ? coped well but again was not tested.

Jagielka ? some dreadful balls forward but got some good challenges in.

Baines ? the best of the bunch at the back and their poor right side meant he was given plenty of space. The highlight was his mazy run in the second half where he went past 3 Fulham players before crossing to Cahill who tried an overhead kick.

Coleman ? had a lot of joy down the right and gave them massive problems before fading in the second half.

Fellaini ? did a good job in the middle although looks a little lacking in confidence. Some of his distribution and control was excellent.

Arteta ? poor game by his standards. Plenty of effort but set pieces were frequently wasted.

Pienaar ? was our best player, chasing lost causes down and linking well with Baines and Fellaini. Needs to shoot more.

Cahill ? did not get great service and didn't look fit but gave his best.

Yakubu ? struggled in the first half but began turning his man in the second and, with a better shot and touch, would have bagged a brace.

Subs: Osman on for Cahill ? was bright; Bily on for Seamus far too late to help.

All-in-all, we were far superior to Fulham and, if we took our chances, could have thrashed them. It's going to take a rebound off the Yak's backside and the goals will come. Somebody is gonna get spanked sooner rather than later.
Andrew James, London     Posted 25/09/2010 at 21:09:11

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Gareth Hughes
1   Posted 25/09/2010 at 22:16:23

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Andrew, you keep telling yourself that we we will spank someone. Results like todayagainst a team with no strikers will send us down. Fact is we are rock bottom of the league and its time to strap ourselves in for a relegation battle. The season has been destroyed by a depressed, negative manager, gutless and possibly mutionous players and a rudderless ship of a board. Only consolation is Liverpool are almost as bad as us.
Matt Traynor
2   Posted 25/09/2010 at 22:25:16

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Andrew, to reiterate Gareth's point, just how often have we spanked teams the way we play?

The side we had in the 80s would often keep trying to score to the last minute. Even if we were 3-0 up!

Too often if we nick a goal, we don't push on for the killer 2nd, 3rd etc. Sadly too often it's bitten us in the arse when conceding silly, late, equalisers (not discounting we've also scored late a few times).

And as Michael points out in his editorial piece - our strikers have not scored since April.

Just as winning can become a habit, so can not winning. Too many of our players are playing without confidence, within themselves.

Yes, we might get out of it. But it will be yet another season of what might have been if we'd only got off to a good start.
Matty Dawkins
3   Posted 25/09/2010 at 22:26:23

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Well fuck me Gareth!
Now I am depressed. If we were playing shite throughout and not creating anything, I'd be concerned but we've never had a decent goalscoring striker since Sharpy so I'm not surprised by the goalshyness. In 6 games time we'll be writing about something else.
Andrew James
4   Posted 25/09/2010 at 22:45:25

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Can we cut out this rubbish about us going down? You lot need to get a reality check. Sides with Coleman and Baines dribbling past three players don't go down. Get perspective. This is our bogey fixture and we got a point.

Under DM we have spanked plenty of sides. Stop being so dramatic and cheer the team on.
Chris Jones
5   Posted 25/09/2010 at 22:59:04

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I was there too and we bossed the game. But for Yak's poor finishing we'd be celebrating a 2 or 3 goal win. Glad to see the side had a better shape and that we passed them off the park, if anything we over-elaborated. Still needs Moyes to find the cutting edge - he's the boss, he's responsible.
Steve Guy
6   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:03:27

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People on this site need to calm down. It has been a poor, poor start to the seasoon, but the ridiculous remarks on this thread and others are way off the mark. Talk of Moyes losing the Dressing Room and mutinous players.......get real.

We continue to play decent football and were again unlucky today. The tide will turn. Form is temporary and class is permanent and our players are in the main in the latter category.

You lot will be waving large minty banners and trying to organise a 70's style sit in next.....
Andrew James
7   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:13:08

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Chris - the boss cannot do much when a £11 million striker doesn't trap a through ball.

Agree that our shape was good. What did you think of Neville?
Tim Kells
8   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:10:05

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Hi guys

i went to the game too. I agree with the most of the comments:

Neville should watch the 2nd Sunderland goal and Nedum Onuoha's fantastic cross.

Howard was also poor with his distribution.

Highlights, were Distin (yes I know) who won everything at the back and Felliani who bossed the midfield and who was always an outlet for a pass.

Chris - you're absolutely right, there was almost always one pass too many instead of getting the ball in the box quicker.
Gareth Hughes
9   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:15:04

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Matty; we had a decent goalscoring striker, his name was Yakubu and then he got injured and re habbed by stuffing sausage rolls down his cakehole! In 6 games time all we could be talking about is whether being bottom after 12 games is too soon to think about relegation.
Andrew James; so a team that has 2 players who dribbled 3 past players ONCE in a game cannot possibly go down? Thats an interesting methodology!
Andrew James
10   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:34:43

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I have watched relegation sides over the years and their players were not going cavalier on the flanks. Name me a side who went down with rampaging wingers and full backs?

My methodology is actually logic. If you watched the world cup or the champs league you will know that speed and guile down the flanks is back in vogue.
Jamie Tulacz
11   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:43:17

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Andrew- to be fair a side like West Brom 2-3 years ago had some decent attacking players but struggled to stick the ball in the net, as we're doing at the moment. Agree that we're not going to be anywhere near going down though, as we have plenty of good players and a decent manager

Think Neville does bring something to the defence- good communication and leadership. Not technically the greatest player, but worth his place in the side
Tom Bowers
12   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:50:57

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Question is why are we not scoring? Goals win games and unless we start winning soon then we obviously wll have to admit this squad and manager are not up to it anymore.Remember the motto-nil satis nisi optimum-nothing but the best, well most of us do but management seem to have forgotton and with 19 teams above us right now what does that say? It is easy to say early days but the games soon pass and confidence can get worse the longer it goes on. Hopefully getting the first win will be the turning point but we need it soon.
John Daley
13   Posted 25/09/2010 at 23:53:35

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Andrew James,

Are you suggesting Everton have "rampaging wingers and fullbacks" then? Last time I looked we didn't have a single genuine wide player at the club and Neville or Hibbert at right back are about as rampant as an eighty year old with erectile dysfunction. Admittedly both Baines and Coleman like to get forward but to suggest that in itself is enough to guarantee a team survival is not "actually logic" at all.

Generally, teams who struggle to score and regularly concede goals far too easily are the ones flirting with relegation. Oh fuck...

Let's hope this winless run doesn't go on for much longer because things are looking very bleak at the moment.



Gerry Western
14   Posted 26/09/2010 at 00:21:20

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Once again lots of possession but no real cutting edge. Pienaar, Fellaini and Coleman the pick of the bunch. Cahill clearly not fit, have to wonder why he was selected. Neville offered little, in fact only added to the frustration given his tendency to play the ball backwards. Needed Coleman to bail him out on a number of occasions. Hibbert would be a better choice along with Coleman I think.

Most worrying of all, was Moyes after match comments. When Coleman's performance was complemented, Moyes reply was less than complimentary. He's not really a wide player but he did alright, we've tried a few out there. We didn't think Osman could go the ninety so we gave him a run out, or words to that effect. God almighty, what planet is he on?

Does this mean he will be resorting back to Osman for the Birmingham game? If so, it suggests he is yet to be convinced that Coleman is a better option than Osman out wide. Presumably he's also still of the opinion Osman should be in Capello's plans.

Talk of relegation is premature. However, on the basis of some of his comments, I wouldn't take too much for granted.
Dick Fearon
15   Posted 26/09/2010 at 00:03:00

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Gareth # 9. You are not alone in saying that until his injury Yakubu was banging them in for fun. For a period after hid arrival from Boro he did just that.
Then he hit a long streak when the goals dried up and he looked as if he couldn't care less. This created a great deal of debate and conjecture on Toffeeweb. His general fitness, doubts were raised about his weight his age and his attitude.
I agreed with a commonly suggested hypothesis that he was that angling for another big transfer payout.
Then came the injury and all such rumours were put on the back burner.
I do not agree with those who believe it is only that injury stopping him from being as effective as he once was. Whether or not he had ulterior motives there is no doubt he was crap leading up to it.
If Everton learned anything from the Andy v d Meyde debacle it should be how futile and expensive it is to carry injury prone players. I would accept any offer that is made for the Yak.
Stephen Larkin
16   Posted 26/09/2010 at 00:38:34

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Huffed an Puffed but still shoite. Only change was a toothless Fulham couldnt score against us. Think we wil get better though
Andrew James
17   Posted 26/09/2010 at 00:57:24

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Baines and Coleman were mostly impressive today - logic is that they will only go onto better things and start causing havoc elsewhere. But logic is not always used by some of you lot who slag us off in the autumn but are nowhere to be seen in May. no greater example than when Tony Marsh came out all guns ablazing in Sept 2008 but we heard nothing after December. At least Mr Kenrick is open handed and consistent.
David Edwards
18   Posted 26/09/2010 at 01:41:50

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One point at Fulham - Positive, but not great!
Better team performance - positive (effort in places at least)
Poor penetration etc - Negative - we just can't finish or get that final ball ih.
Bottom of League - An absolute disgrace - Don't ever say anything other than this is a huge embarrassment that should be made clear to manager and players that is totally unacceptable!
Get real folks - we are in a relegation battle NOW! 10-12 wins needed? So who the hell are we likely to beat? Answers on a postcard please!!!!
Dennis Stevens
19   Posted 26/09/2010 at 02:27:21

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I only hope the Board are scraping a few pennies together to enable Moyes to bring in another striker in the January transfer window. Although who we could afford to sign that would be good enough for such a demanding role & willing to sign up to such an unrewarding task is anybody's guess.
Peter Fearon
20   Posted 26/09/2010 at 02:42:25

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I wouldn't sell Yakubu, although that is clearly what he wants. I would make him train with the academy until the day his contract is up and then see if anyone wants to pay him 50K a week after that. It would be worth losing out on 4M just to show other players the club won't accept players passing up on scoring just to get a transfer.
Jay Harris
21   Posted 26/09/2010 at 03:44:32

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I think you're all being unfair on the Yak.

His link-up play and ability to hold the ball is far superior to Cahill, Saha or Beckford and but for a couple of good saves by Schwarzer could have bagged a couple today.

The only negative about today apart from the lack of goals was the constant hoofing to nowhere by Jags, Howard, Neville and to a lesser extent Distin.

We have to start playing through MF or at least find a man with a long ball rather than just hoof it forward.

Sega Kana
22   Posted 26/09/2010 at 05:27:28

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It looks bad doesn't it..it really does. But last night, i was convinced that Coleman is a better RM than Osman. We had more balls into the box than ever. Our build up play is great, we pass and control very well but..no through ball which is effective. Moyes needs to start playing 2 up front. Still 32 games to go till next May...Win 20 of those and we're in the drivers seat..hehehe..COYB!!
Dermot Ryan
23   Posted 26/09/2010 at 06:02:24

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Thought there were some genuine positives here along with the obvious negatives.

1. Great to see Fell playing in his natural position as defensive midfielder. Was not his best game but it will come. Andrew: I agree with your confidence remark. I think this may well be a result of Moyes moving people around so much. Leave players in their natural positions!

2. We can certainly pass and many of our players look really comfortable on the ball in tight situations.

3. Coleman on right-mid indicates that Moyes may have realized that he may be the one player who can play out of his traditional position. He is not the solution to our problems but I love his energy and his directness. Someone who is naturally attracted to the opposite team's goal (something which cannot be said of some our great players--Baines, Peanuts, and Arteta who seem more interested in holding onto the ball)

4. We generally bossed the game in midfield and in defense. We were away from home against a bogey side and we looked like the home squad.

If that were the first game of the season I would be really happy with that performance.

Negatives:

1. Obviously, it isn't the start of the season and we are bottom of the league.

2. Moyes reverted to type and made really cautious and stupid substitutions. Bringing Bily on in 86 minutes is demoralizing for him and indicates that he was happy with a draw. Bringing Osman on was maddening.

3. Apart from bringing Bily on late, Moyes again played him out of position.

4. Yak looks crocked. I thought he tried and he showed real touches of skill, but I was really concerned by the way he walked around off the ball. We may get 5-6 goals off him over the course of a season (and I doubt he will be with us after January), but he is not the answer to our goal woes.
Dermot Ryan
24   Posted 26/09/2010 at 06:02:24

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Thought there were some genuine positives here along with the obvious negatives.

1. Great to see Fell playing in his natural position as defensive midfielder. Was not his best game but it will come. Andrew: I agree with your confidence remark. I think this may well be a result of Moyes moving people around so much. Leave players in their natural positions!

2. We can certainly pass and many of our players look really comfortable on the ball in tight situations.

3. Coleman on right-mid indicates that Moyes may have realized that he may be the one player who can play out of his traditional position. He is not the solution to our problems but I love his energy and his directness. Someone who is naturally attracted to the opposite team's goal (something which cannot be said of some our great players--Baines, Peanuts, and Arteta who seem more interested in holding onto the ball)

4. We generally bossed the game in midfield and in defense. We were away from home against a bogey side and we looked like the home squad.

If that were the first game of the season I would be really happy with that performance.

Negatives:

1. Obviously, it isn't the start of the season and we are bottom of the league.

2. Moyes reverted to type and made really cautious and stupid substitutions. Bringing Bily on in 86 minutes is demoralizing for him and indicates that he was happy with a draw. Bringing Osman on was maddening.

3. Apart from bringing Bily on late, Moyes again played him out of position.

4. Yak looks crocked. I thought he tried and he showed real touches of skill, but I was really concerned by the way he walked around off the ball. We may get 5-6 goals off him over the course of a season (and I doubt he will be with us after January), but he is not the answer to our goal woes.
Garry Martin
25   Posted 26/09/2010 at 07:49:36

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Apart from the Newcastle game, we have played quite well.However, it is obvious that 2 things are currently short in our side...... a) lack of a decent striker/s.......b) the crap 451 formation DM insists on playing.

As for the striker we can only hope DM has somthing up his sleeve come Jan, as for formation, its over to you DM.........38,000 can't be wrong.
Chris Jones
26   Posted 26/09/2010 at 09:20:43

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Andrew - I thought Neville gave a typical 'just back from injury performance', but we were solid at the back and he helped with that.

Quick point about the 4-5-1 myth. We don't play 4-5-1 - Cahill doesn't play in midfield he plays off the front man. Would people be moaning if it was Rooney, Tevez, Keane etc who all play deeper than the centre forward? Nope. Sometimes Cahill pushes on to their back line, other times he harasses their deep lying midfielders - it's a 4-4-1-1 and it DOES work when he's the man playing there. When it fails it's normally someone else e.g. Felli who's in there - that's where Moyes DOES get it wrong.
Steve Cotton
27   Posted 26/09/2010 at 10:40:51

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Three main areas of concern hit me in the face today.

1. bit of width on the right (Colemen) and we looked better balanced... however, a genuine right winger there (Donovan, N'Zogbia etc) and we would be much more potent.

2. Arteta is not at the races, his play is sideways and his set piece stuff is woeful.

3. Our passing from the back is also woeful; we just bring it back in our faces by playing long diagonal balls to no-one.

We also have players who cannot perform at this level: Bily, Osman, Beckford, and a couple of others... are we saving them for when we go down?

DM get a striker sorted, kick Arteta up the arse and put Heitinga where Jags is so we can pass out of defence... please!

Leigh Hardie
28   Posted 26/09/2010 at 10:42:24

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I agree Chris. A lot of people are crying out for this miraculous 4-4-2 but as I said on the other thread, it's no going to happen under Moyes and it's not going to happen while Cahill is on the team sheet. What I saw us play yesterday was 4-4-1-1 and at it's best was 4-3-3 with Coleman or Pienaar piling in there. However, unfortunately we're no Chelsea and Yak is certainly no Drogba.
Mike Gwyer
29   Posted 26/09/2010 at 11:37:44

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Personally I thought the Yak played well, he held the ball and linked well with Coleman and Pienaar. I'm fully aware is shooting boots are not firing but his two shots in injury time were both inches wide, additionally the Fulham GK had an excellent game.

We bossed the game both in midfield and on both flanks, yes I know we are lacking up front but Moyes picked Cahill, who obviously was not fit, probably more to battle with their back line rather than actually "play footy".

If you watched yesterday's game then you will know that a win is just around the corner. Fulham away is tough, the top four often lose or draw there and we have not won there this decade.

Lets go to Brum, and get behind the team, it's a game I believe we can win.
Nelaj Behajiha
30   Posted 26/09/2010 at 13:12:54

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Arteta is shite in central midfield, he brings nothing to the side a central midfield. As usual Yakubu was left completely isolated up front.
John Crook
31   Posted 26/09/2010 at 13:27:21

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I watched yesterday's game on a stream ? and Distin was surprisingly faultless in the game (although he was up against a makeshift strike force... a bit like the Cahill/Fellaini combo in Gera and Dempsey).

I was still expecting a Fulham goal in the last 10 mins or so, so piling on further misery. But, taking into account it's a ground where we have lost 8 out of 9, a point and a clean sheet will hopefully add some confidence to the defence. Incidently i think Jagielka has only had two decent games this season and they were in white shirts...

Heitinga just doesn't look right this season (as confirmed by Round last week) but I'm sure he will step into the back four as soon as he is ready. Fellaini looked much more comfortable in front of the defence and is still a powerhouse threat when going forward.

A postive move from Moyes in starting Coleman on the right and he never disappointed anyone (faded slightly on the hour mark). But I'd definitely carry on playing Coleman there. With Neville or Hibbert behind him it will be a good learning curve to see how they defend but it will give Seamus time to bolster forward which is obviously his first noteable talent ? I think Coleman will win lots of pens bombing past players in the box.

I was surprised that Yak played 93 mins... looked ok - but this time 2 years ago he would've converted all those chances. But, if the Yak is going to have to play 90 mins when he ain't match fit, what does that say about our squad ? which is apprently "the strongest in years"? I just hope when Saha returns he can finally stay fit; when he's fit and scoring, there ain't too many better forwards around... pity that only happens about 20% of every season.

Chris Jones
32   Posted 26/09/2010 at 14:37:45

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"Arteta is shite in central midfield" - absolutely garbage. You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking that bollocks.
Jamie Barlow
33   Posted 26/09/2010 at 14:45:42

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Think thats a bit strong Nelaj but most of his crosses and dead balls yesterday were abysmal. We need our better players to start performing and until they do we'll be staying in the shit. Arteta needs to sort his head out.
Luke Dunn
34   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:14:31

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Once again, Jagielka was crap, his distribution was very very poor, as it always is. We missed a trick in the summer when he could have been sold. It's sad when you have to admit that even Distin was the better centre-half by a country mile. Get Heitinga back in there asap.
Greg Carr
35   Posted 26/09/2010 at 15:25:01

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A few positives, Defensibly we looked solid. It's easy to say we were not tested but Distin, Jags, Bainesy and Neville dealt with what little was thrown at them quite comfortably. They can't do much more than that really. Most people are concerned about scoring but for me our defense is also a massive concern. Hopefully now they are starting to sort this area out.

Thought the Yak did ok but he has played (please correct me if I am wrong) over 30 games since his injury and is still not back to his best. I am inclined to think he won't reach this level again. I'd still rather play a crocked Yak than fit Beckford thou. Personally I'd drag Vaughan back from Palace if we could.

One question though, and I am not sure the answer. Can we blame the strikers or is it the midfield, or both, for not putting teams to bed? The Yak did have a few half chances and one clear chance but overall we didn't create too many clear cut chances. Is this because of Yak's lack of movement? Or just not enough creativity?

Also does anyone else think we are too predictable? We seem to take everything through the wings, we don't seem to be able to pass through teams like good sides do.

David Hallwood
36   Posted 26/09/2010 at 16:08:26

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Posts 29-30# what's that old maxim about form and class?
Tony J Williams
37   Posted 26/09/2010 at 17:18:25

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"Get real folks - we are in a relegation battle NOW!" - Didn't realise this season was almost over. I thought we had 32 more games to get sufficient points....looks like the season is shorter than normal this season.
Dean Adams
38   Posted 26/09/2010 at 17:46:47

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Mike Gwyer ? We beat Fulham last season at the Cottage, didn't we?
Karl Masters
39   Posted 26/09/2010 at 18:09:47

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Dean. You are also incorrect. It was the season before last when a certain Mr Osman scored both goals on a very hot day in May for a 2-0 win.

Last season we lost 2-1 in September conceding an unlucky deflected free kick and a wonder strike from Duff after Tim Cahill had headed us in front.
David Price
40   Posted 27/09/2010 at 10:29:01

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Andrew, good and fair assessment of the game.
Some of the negative comments are derived from 6 games in and no win.
If this was game one of the season then we'd be pleased.
The side looks well balanced and much stronger now.
Anthony Hughes
41   Posted 27/09/2010 at 10:44:32

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David, it isn't game one of the season, we've played 6 games, no wins and we're bottom and knocked out of the cup by a 19th in League One placed Brentford. Ok we did decent against a weakened Fulham, I think the negative comments are justified.
Mike Gwyer
42   Posted 27/09/2010 at 10:54:48

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Posts 38 and 39.

Yep, 2 years back we did win 2 nothing - last game of the season as I now recall and as you say Osman getting both goals - now that's not something you forget in a hurry.

Obviously I'm going to blame that memory lapse on David Moyes, fuck all to do with the fact I'm getting old.

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