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Season 2011-12

Bolder Blues Profit from Late Twist

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  24/10/2011
 34 Comments (Last)

Fulham 1 - 3 Everton

Fortune eventually favoured the brave at Craven Cottage as Everton snatched two late goals to secure a dramatic victory over Fulham, only their second on this ground since the inception of the Premier League.

Bobby Zamora was still wondering how he'd blazed wide of a gaping goal at one end when Louis Saha chested forward Royston Drenthe's knock-on, accelerated past and then held off the challenge of his marker and bounced what proved to be the winning goal off the inside of the post in the 90th minute. Jack Rodwell added a third in stoppage time to put the icing on the cake and arrest the Blues' losing streak at three matches with a vital win.

It provided a measure of vindication for David Moyes who finally bowed to pressure and poor results by mixing up his starting line up, dropping Tim Cahill and Saha to the bench and starting both Drenthe and Apostolos Vellios, the duo that had combined so well for the consolation goal at Chelsea last weekend and who had been pressing for their full debuts with decent cameos in prior appearances off the bench.

Indeed, that vindication arrived after just two minutes and 16 seconds when Drenthe smashed home the opening goal with a stunning strike that Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal couldn't prevent from nestling in the corner of the goal. Starting out on the right flank, the Dutch winger picked up the loose ball after Jack Rodwell had capitalised on an error by Danny Murphy and played a one-two with Vellios and flashed his unstoppable left-footer home from 25 yards.

For the first quarter of an hour, Everton were in almost compete control of proceedings and the home side, with just one victory from their first eight games (their 6-0 drubbing of QPR standing out like a sore thumb among four draws and four defeats), looked nervy and vulnerable to a quick second. That might have come from Marouane Fellaini but Brede Hangeland nudged him enough to force him behind the ball and the Belgian could only direct a free header back across goal where Sylvain Distin's shot was deflected behind.

Four minutes later, Murphy felled the effevescent Drenthe and when Leighton Baines centred it at the second attempt, Rodwell steered an unchallenged header of his own past the far post. Drenthe then had an opportunity for an encore with an almost identical effort to his opening goal but this time a deflection guided the ball towards the goalkeeper and Schwarzer gathered.

Despite ploughing the lonely furrow as the sole striker, Vellios was acquitting himself fairly well with the simple stuff ? neat layoffs and bringing teammates into the game ? but took a while to get to grips with the number of long balls being fired his way from the back. As would be a constant problem for the Blues all game, there was very little support for the Blue jersey in possession in forward areas so the Greek struggled to make his mark, especially when his chance for glory arrived on a gilt-edged platter in the 21st minute.

Patient play down the right side ended with Drenthe flicking the ball to Tony Hibbert on the touchline with the outside of this boot and the fullback whipped in a perfect cross the pick out Vellios completely free ? and probably marginally offside ? in the centre but he connected with the top of his head and the ball flew over the crossbar.

It was a big let-off for Martin Jol's team and they responded accordingly, Murphy rattling Everton nerves and the woodwork with a 24th-minute piledriver that cannoned off Tim Howard's right post, caught the 'keeper on the rebound but thankfully ran away for a corner on the far side.

A minute later, Clint Dempsey was allowed to cut across the 18-yard line and unload a deflected shot that Howard saved low before the American goalkeeper tipped Hangeland's header over the bar from John Arne Riise's long throw. And Howard again had to foil his international teammate, Dempsey, eight minutes before the break when the forward latched onto Zamora's clever ball over the top but the 'keeper was off his line quickly and bravely stood his ground to gather the ball.

Not to be deterred, Dempsey tried an bending shot looking for the top corner but it flew inches wide of the post sending the home side in a goal down at half time.

For the first half hour of the second half, it felt as though the writing was on the wall for Everton and that the lead that Vellios could have doubled midway through the first half would eventually be wiped out if Fulham were allowed to dictate things as they had started to in the latter part of the first period.

Certainly the Blues had lost some of their cohesion and forward momentum. Presumably to protect Hibbert, who found himself worryingly out of position on a few occasions, Drenthe had switched flanks after about halfway through the first half and he almost immediately became less influential in the match. Though he started the second half back on the right side, Jol had by then identified him as Moyes's chief threat going forward and for long periods after the interval they managed to choke him off and had, by the midway point of the second period, restricted the Blues to just one daisy-cutter from Rodwell than slid a yard wide.

To be fair, though they'd had the upper hand, Fulham weren't exactly causing Howard many problems and it took a moment of unexpected magic from substitute Bryan Ruiz to shatter the Blues' clean sheet. The substitute had come on with 24 minutes left on the clock and, after a surging run by ex-Blue Andy Johnson and a pass on by Demspey, he needed a little over two minutes on the field and some space left by Hibbert who was tucked too far inside to despatch an audacious chip over the 'keeper and into the net behind him.

That could have given Fulham all the impetus they needed to take full control and go on to win the game but, following a double substitution of the ineffectual Leon Osman and lacklustre Phil Neville for Seamus Coleman and Tim Cahill ? Saha had replaced Vellios earlier ? Everton gradually started to gain a foothold back in proceedings.

Baines drove a direct free kick a yard over after Drenthe had again been tripped near the Fulham area before Hangeland was somehow allowed to wrestle Cahill to the floor by his face without incurring any penalty a few minutes later.

Still, though Everton were trying to up the tempo, the story of their afternoon was a disappointing lack of numbers and options in support of the man on the ball. All four of Drenthe, Fellaini, Coleman and Rodwell found themselves at times with no man available and ended up conceding possession but in the 79th minute things came together nicely with a ball to Saha's feet in the box where quick reactions saw the Frenchman nip ahead of his marker to a loose ball that had bounced off a Fulham defender's head but Schwarzer got just enough on his left-footed shot to push it to the side where it was hacked away by a defender.

The Blues escaped a scare in the 81st minute when Ruiz was denied by Howard at point-blank range and looked to be dead buried with a minute to go of the regulation 90 when Johnson dispossessed the fatigued Fellaini near the halfway line, burst forward down the right channel and slipped the ball into the space behind Distin to Zamora. The striker did all the hard work by committing Howard and jinking inside him, leaving just Hibbert's despairing lunge and Phil Jagielka on the line to beat. Opting for power over placement, Zamora clipped the wrong side of the woodwork before putting his head in his hands in complete disbelief.

From the resulting goalkick, it was another route-one move that eventually led to Saha punishing Zamora for his profligacy at the other end. Hangeland beat Cahill in the aerial challenge but could only head backwards where Drenthe beat Baird to the ball and nodded it into the path of Saha who did the rest to send the traveling support into rapture behind the goal.

To rub salt into the wound, Baird was booked for scything Saha down on the left touchline and when Hangleland could only head Drenthe's free kick straight to Rodwell, the midfielder returned it with interest with a sweetly-struck shot from 18 yards that bounced through the partially unsighted Schwarzer's hands to round off a priceless win.

Increasingly demoralised following consecutive defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, with many supporters starting to question Moyes's conservative tactics, and the Blues starting this match in 17th place in the table, this was a huge result and reward for a more positive team selection.

Vellios will feel like he wasn't able to stake his claim for a regular starting berth just yet as he battled as the lone striker and there was, unfortunately, no role for Ross Barkley while in a position the youngster could easily fill, Osman labored through another unproductive display. But Drenthe, despite not being consistent for the full 90 minutes, added everything those fans clamouring for hi m to start throught he would: pace, unpredictability and self-belief, all of which contributed to his magnificent third-minute strike.

As tonics go ahead of another meeting with Chelsea, this time in the League Cup in midweek, and then the visit of Manchester United next weekend, this will hopefully prove to be the elixir of new life for Everton. Granted, there were parts of this game where the Blues lost their way and they'll need to offer more support in attack if they are to profit against the better teams, but this is a terrific first step to getting back on an even keel and maintaining confidence levels among the players.

Player Ratings: Howard 7, Hibbert 7, Jagielka 6, Distin 7, Baines 7, Neville 6 (Cahill 7), Osman 6 (Coleman 6), Rodwell 7, Fellaini 7, Drenthe 8*, Vellios 6 (Saha 7)  

Reader Comments

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Kase Chow
1   Posted 24/10/2011 at 08:57:23

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Great win - important and some good goals
Dick Fearon
2   Posted 24/10/2011 at 11:07:23

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You say Osman was ineffectual, that must be your polite way of saying he was totally shite.
By all accounts there are good young players begging for a chance of first team experience. For as long as Osman wears the shirt their chance goes begging.
How long are they prepared to wait?
In January a horde of cashed up clubs will swoop on our prime youngsters. What chance do we have of keeping them if all we offer those kids are games in the reserves with a rare outing in the first team.
Nick Entwistle
3   Posted 24/10/2011 at 12:30:08

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Only saw the MOTD2 highlights, though skimmed through the live forum. Someone suggested we were playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, is that true?
Kevin Sparke
4   Posted 24/10/2011 at 12:35:36

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I thought Hibbert was edging it for MoTM - he's really improved over the last two years. I remember imploring Moyes on here to make the Cup Final Hibbert's last game for Everton - I'm glad he took no notice. The guy has come on leaps and bounds.
Peter Cummings
5   Posted 24/10/2011 at 12:34:25

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Hard to be critical after a very good result but 'ifs and buts' still remain. When we scored so early, it was always on the cards as the game went on an equaliser was inevitable, and sure enough it came.

After that, it was let them come at us to save at least a point. If Zamora hadn't tried to break the net instead of tapping in, I don't think we'd have recovered like we did. But finally we got lucky and in the end deserved the win. With two more hard ones to come on Wednesday and Saturday, fingers crossed...
Mike Gaynes
6   Posted 24/10/2011 at 14:10:42

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Good report, Lyndon... although I don't believe for a minute that Moyes "bowed to pressure" in picking his lineup -- he simply picked the players who were in best form. I don't think he pays the slightest attention to what the chat boards say.

For me, Drenthe was obviously MOTM... his goal was a cracker and he was aggressive to win the ball that set up Saha?s gamewinner... put it right on Saha's chest. I really like Drenthe?s attack-attack-attack mentality and the way he interplays with Fellaini. He?ll make more mistakes, but we can live with them, and I think he'll be a permanent starter. Full marks to Moyes for starting Drenthe on the right side and giving him the freedom to roam. And Moyes chose the right subs at the right times... Saha was great and Cahill clearly deserved that penalty -- obvious call blown.

High marks also to Rodwell, who laid on the first goal and scored the third... and did you see that stunning backheel to Saha on the offside play? He put him through clean without even looking over his shoulder. Rodwell?s growing up.

I don't think Osman, Coleman or Neville rated more than a 5... Coleman in particular was unusually passive, and Neville wasn't closing people down at all.

And a round of applause if you please for John Ruddy... how sweet that a former Blue stuffs it to the Shite. His final stop on Suarez to save the point for Norwich was the save of the season.
Jarrod Prosser
7   Posted 24/10/2011 at 15:17:37

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Ladies & Gentlemen: Royston Drenthe. One cracking goal.
Direct involvement in the 2nd & 3rd goals.

Please tell me why this man hasn't been more involved in the past month.

Dave Wilson
8   Posted 24/10/2011 at 14:34:08

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A fair report, Lyndon.

Osman was once again the player who had to sacrifice his own performance for the good of the team. Fulham were queing up to get down our right side in the opening stages. Riise was playing like an old-fashioned winger, but Drenthe stood on the half-way line letting him go time and again. Moyes had to change it.

In truth, Ossie wasn't much better defending but at least he tracked back to provide Hibbert with some protection. That said, Drenthe deserved his "8" ? it was so refreshing to see a players in a blue shirt doing the unpredictable.

I also thought Rodwell desevered his goal, he showed glimpses of the aggression and drive that saw him go straight for Man Utd's throat a couple of seasons ago. The guy has all the attributes to take these games by the scruff of the neck... just wish he believed in himself a bit more.

The one thing I would disagree with Lyndon about was his choice of MotM. Tony Hibbert has become a sort cult figure amongst travelling blues and it was all there on Saturday, everything we have come to expect of him: lapses of concentration, clumsy control, wayward passes... but he was bravery personified; he never stopped trying to get forward and I lost count of the number of times he pulled our gormless centerbacks out of the shit by making some magnificent trademark last-ditch tackles. Without Tony, we'd have lost this.

Not one for the purist but, after enjoying a few pints on the river side in glorious sunshine, the travelling hordes were in great voice and the game swung back and forward.

A great afternoon's entertainment enhanced by Moyes (acting out of character some will say) being prepared to risk defeat by going for the victory.
Nick Entwistle
9   Posted 24/10/2011 at 15:55:46

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Do you think Moyes negotiated a sale price with Madrid as part of the loan contract? Or is he out of contract come May? I've a feeling, like Manny, he's been placed in the shop window.
Steve Higham
10   Posted 24/10/2011 at 15:59:14

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Fair play to Moyes did freshen up the starting eleven .
Have been wanting Velios and Drenthe to score .
Was disappointed that we did'nt support Velios enough- he worked tirelessly up front. His free header miss from Hibberts cross was a shocker - until you saw Zamora's.
Great strike from Drenthe but we then surrendered the midfield to Fulham for a lot of the game.
The manager played his subs at the right time - we actually kept hold of the ball and looked much better with Neville off the pitch.The obvious turning point was the howler from Zamora .

Nice to see the lads get the three points - could be very valuable.Hope the positivity can continue in our next two games .

The only negatives for me was how annonymous Osman was and how shocking Neville was - dont know how either are making the first team.
Lyndon Lloyd
11   Posted 24/10/2011 at 16:12:21

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Hibbert ran Drenthe a close second for me, Dave. Where he lost a mark for me was where he got dragged out of position two or three times, almost crucially for the Murphy shot that came off the post.

Drenthe didn't offer him much protection, admittedly, but that's not his job and I'm sure it's his attacking bias that has prevented Moyes from playing him more over the last three games.

Personally, I'd rather Moyes make adjustments in midfield to accommodate him so that we have some pace and power in the side rather than leave him sitting on the bench but there you go...

Regarding Osman, it's true that he doesn't play well out wide but he's not consistently good enough in the middle either. He's been played behind the striker this season and not past muster and it's plain to these eyes that Ross Barkley offers a lot more. Unfortunately, it seems that the old favorites are allowed to make mistakes but the kid doesn't get a chance to prove he's learned from his.
Don't know whether to hope that's the case rather than believe that Moyes is protecting a sale-able asset...

James Martin
12   Posted 24/10/2011 at 16:27:54

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Osman can't play on the wing or behind the striker because he doesn't have any pace. It's like playing a Riquelme type there (not that I am claiming they are of a similar quality). Osman should be occupying one of the deeper central midfield spots preferably with Rodwell behind him.

Fellaini has been as culpable as Osman in these last few games but everyone just glosses over his mistakes to put the boot into Osman or the odd mistake that the otherwise excellent Hibbert has made. Fellaini got robbed multiple times, the last of which led to Zamora's chance.

We were also suspect to long-range shots such as Murphy's all day long because neither him, Rodwell or Neville could close anyone down and block a shot. At times, we were just getting ran through right up the middle. Fellaini offered nothing up front and very little in defence, plus his distribution is so mind-numbingly slow.
Bruce Moxham
13   Posted 24/10/2011 at 16:35:29

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I agree with Dave Wilson's comments about Osman. He didnt doing anything creative in the match but his role in closing down fulhams left side is being overlooked by a lot of people. Riise had the freedom of the park early on and we were getting over run. Drenthe needs to learn how to track back but he'll get there.
Dave Wilson
14   Posted 24/10/2011 at 16:45:07

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We all know managers like their players to do the ugly stuff too; Moyes insists upon it... But I think he'll make an exception in Drenthe's case.

I cringed when somebody recently described us on these pages as the Audley Harrison of the Prem ? it was so painfully accurate. Royston doesn't seem to do tracking back... but, for the first time in ages, we looked like we carried a real menace, an ability to really hurt the opposition.

Moyes may be a creature of habbit, but Drenthe has had a month to regain full match fitness and I'll be amazed if his name isn't the first on the team sheet against Chelsea.
Tom Dodds
15   Posted 24/10/2011 at 16:49:43

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No.11 (Lyndon) Is dead right. I've been saying it for ages (regarding Osman).

As for Barkley's saleable asset role, I feel a "tearing my season ticket up" emotion coming on over any scenario where we sell off a potential world class player.

But, leaving that aside for now, could Moyes please please just for one measley game (after all this time), please give Bily a shot behind the striker role...? I mean is it sooo much to ask that we watch a NON-winger worth 9-10 mill,sit on the bench BECAUSE he's not a winger???? Will it hurt that inept floundering `tactician` to try him just ONCE this year?

I could add playing a 4-4-2 but miracles, as they say, do take longer.

As a thought... If Spurs set higher sights in next January's transfer window, some form of buying him back plan??
Steavey Buckley
16   Posted 24/10/2011 at 18:11:39

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I don't know if Moyes read any of my previous comments, but it was good to see Drenthe was played wide on the left to give one of the best left backs in the premier league support. Now Everton need a good right back and someone wide right with him.
Andy Crooks
17   Posted 24/10/2011 at 18:47:43

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Dave Wilson, I absolutely agree about Tony Hibbert. Osman should never play wide and he willingly fucks up his reputation by doing it.

Moyes has always been reluctant to have a luxury player but Drenthe must start. Mike Gaynes I'm not sure about Moyes's disdain of the chatboards. If you are right then Moyes is just slow on the uptake. Baines should have been at left back long before he was. Coleman, and my God, many called for him to be right side midfield, was ignored for too long.

These were just incomprehensible decisions. He needs to listen to the "chatboards" once more and get Duffy back from loan and develop him as the future Everton captain he is.
Mike Gaynes
18   Posted 24/10/2011 at 19:05:02

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Sorry, Andy, I don't buy it for a minute that we on the chat boards, who see these players for 90 minutes (or less) a week, are quicker on the "uptake" than the man who sees them every day in practice. The folks here who truly believe they know more about football than Moyes are delusional. We love the game, but none of us has ever made a living at it.

By definition, as a manager in the Prem, David Moyes is in top one percent of football managers in the world. How many of us can claim to be in the top one percent of what we do? And you really think he's going to read our comments, let alone pay any attention to them? Sorry, but I think the idea that he "needs to listen to the chatboards" is pretty silly.

Tom Dodds, I can't figure you out... you think Barkley is a potential world-beater but you want Moyes to give that spot behind the striker to Bily because he cost more? If someone is going to replace Osman there, I say give it to Barkley.
Trevor Mackie
19   Posted 24/10/2011 at 19:26:58

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Mike Gaynes

By your logic George Dubbya Bush was a genius.

I don't think so.
Dennis Stevens
20   Posted 24/10/2011 at 19:41:44

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Maybe it's just the view of the match I had, but I thought it was one of the better performances I've seen from Howard, although I'd have been happier if he'd had less to do in the first place. Unfortunately for Osman, he's become a bit of a jack of all trades master of none type figure in our squad, I don't think we've ever really utilised him to best advantage & it's probably too late now.
Robin Cannon
21   Posted 24/10/2011 at 20:58:26

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@Jarrod #7

"Ladies & Gentlemen: Royston Drenthe. One cracking goal. Direct involvement in the 2nd & 3rd goals.
Please tell me why this man hasn't been more involved in the past month."

...perhaps because he was being brought up to full match fitness and sharpness so that when he did start he could, I dunno, score one cracking goal and have direct involvement in the 2nd & 3rd goals.

He himself said something similar in the interview that TW is linking to today, when he says he wouldn't have liked to have started when out of shape and unable to make an impact.

Obviously that's not necessarily the absolute truth, but just because he played really well against Fulham doesn't automatically make it a wrong decision not to have been starting him over the past month.
Mike Gaynes
22   Posted 24/10/2011 at 21:00:55

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No, Trevor... being a Premier League manager requires a license, experience and a record of previous success. Unfortunately, as exemplified by Bush and the current crop of candidates, being President of the United States requires none of the above!!!
Mike Gaynes
23   Posted 24/10/2011 at 21:04:45

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Robin, right you are!

Dennis, we all wrote much the same about Osman for most of last season... then he stepped in for the injured Arteta and was our best player over the last dozen games or so. Don't write him off.
David Bridge
24   Posted 24/10/2011 at 21:33:56

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Still not got my voice back ? I will surely keel over watching Everton one day.....

All together now:

"When the ball hits your head,
When your sat in Row Z,
That's Zamora!"
John Ford
25   Posted 24/10/2011 at 21:37:47

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Osman has been our best player at times but people forget this. Granted I find him lightweight and can drift, but Its unfair on the lad not to at least acknowledge the highs.

Barkley for Osman?? at the moment it has to be worth a punt. Thing is Ossie can really influence games. Its a question of how long you're prepared to wait for him to hit form.
Ciarán McGlone
26   Posted 24/10/2011 at 21:44:21

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Osman is poor. A footballer is judged by their consistency. You can remember the 'highs' all you want but, in doing so, you ignore most of his first team appearances for Everton.
John Daley
27   Posted 24/10/2011 at 21:40:21

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"It was good to see Drenthe was played wide on the left to give one of the best left backs in the Premier League support."

Eh? I never realised Drenthe was a white, Leon Osman looking motherfucker. The likeness is uncanny. I could've sworn that was actually Osman himself trundling around aimlessly in front of Baines. My mistake, I guess.

Now I just need to figure out who that little black lad was bombing down the right.
Dennis Stevens
28   Posted 24/10/2011 at 22:12:01

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Not writing him off, Mike. I've always liked little Leon. Sadly, I don't think we've really seen the best of him other than in patches such as you mention regarding last season. The main reason for this has been his willingness to perform a role for the team that doesn't always show him at his best & invites much of the criticism he receives. I'm sure we'll see him at his best again, but much of the time he'll be selflessly performing a role to which he's not especially well suited.
Dick Fearon
29   Posted 24/10/2011 at 22:33:26

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Its been many a long day since Leon had any kind of positive influence on a game, negative perhaps but certainly not positive.

On another topic, the simple no nonsense Drenthe style is very much like that of a certain Landon.
Steavey Buckley
30   Posted 24/10/2011 at 23:30:39

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If you watch Osman play, he always drifts into middle and leaves the wide postion that the team sheet has him down for. I don't believe I have seen Osman run down the wing and knock a cross over yet. But someone is bound to comment that he has.

On most matches that I have watched watched this season, Baines has been left with the task of providing crosses into the box.
Ian Pennington
31   Posted 25/10/2011 at 00:10:46

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@Steavey Buckley: It's hardly rocket science to spot that Osman drifts inside; he's not a natural winger who will hug the touchline, beat a player for pace and then whip in a cross. Nobody has ever said he is.

Just because you're positioned as a side midfield player doesn't always mean you'll be doing those things. And the fact that one of the best crossers in the league is bombing down the wing to support him is actually more justification for Osman being in the position. Everyone bangs on about the Baines/Pienaar combo (with justification) but how often did you see Pienaar whip a cross in with anywhere near the ferocity and accuracy that Baines does? Not very. The point is that players can complement each other if played in the correct positions. Osman's is central midfield, but he can also be useful as a side midfielder if playing with a good enough full back.

@Nick Entwhistle: Someone else may've already answered your 4-2-3-1 comment, but my reaction is this: 4-2-3-1 has been Moyes' favoured formation for a long time, when going forward. It just looks more like the 4-4-1-1 that people describe it as when we're defending. That's the nature of formations, though.
James Flynn
32   Posted 25/10/2011 at 01:09:26

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Mike (22) - As a proud American, ugh.

"No, Trevor... being a Premiership manager requires a license, experience and a record of previous success. Unfortunately, as exemplified by Bush and the current crop of candidates, being President of the United States requires none of the above!!!"

Didn't expect that shot to the groin in here. Too true.
Andy Crooks
33   Posted 25/10/2011 at 09:52:48

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Mike, by your definition, Steve Kean is one of the top managers in the world. Well, I'm not buying that. Also, I'm not suggesting that individual fans know more than Moyes. However, when many people who watch the game from different viewpoints collectively call for the same changes, they might have a point.

David Moyes is a stubborn man who is slow to change. Being stubborn is rarely a virtue. It worked for Alf Ramsey, David Moyes has many qualities but he's no Ramsey.
Steavey Buckley
34   Posted 25/10/2011 at 22:26:07

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Re: Ian Pennington, Steve Pienaar offered something that Osman has never offered Baines, pace and direct play. That's why Everton were more effective down the left then, than now. Full backs hate being confronted with pacey left side direct players. And it showed by the amount of free kicks that were given away when Pienaar and Baines were together.

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