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Season 2011-12

From my seat: Stoke City (H)

By Ken Buckley   ::  04/12/2011
 19 Comments (Last)
The day started well when the Welsh national anthem greeted the teams onto the field where a posse of Gareth Speeds former Blue team-mates plus his father Roger all assembled for a rousing moment of reflection and applause. A nice touch was youngsters in the kits of all the teams Gareth had played for and his number at each club and national team on the back joining the others on the centre circle.

Standing there clapping and the big screen showing the man himself my mind went to his two lads left behind and felt a chill as I realised that they must forever ask themselves and each other ?Why did dad do that? A tragic event in any circumstance but the profile of the man has brought such things to the attention of the wider public. It would be nice to think that out of this tragedy others who suffer demons will seek help before their loved ones suffer.

The game itself did little to raise the spirits as Everton were as woeful as a Stoke team coming off the back of a Euro night on Thursday and finding it necessary to play Woodgate as a right back. The fact the game was settled by one set piece virtually tells the story.

The opening was non-descript with nothing more than a few long balls and the Blues playing well across the back and retaining the ball but not really finding anywhere to go in an attacking sense. Bilyaletdinov gave us our first yell when he got in a position to shoot, unfortunately he hit it horribly wrong but Vellios flicked a foot at it and the ball travelled the width of the pitch and didn?t even go out. Fair play Bilyaletdinov was not for hiding and he was getting involved whenever he could none more so than the 15min mark when he headed a corner from Stoke weakly out to the edge of the box where Whitehead drilled it back into a penalty area full of bodies yet the ball ended up in the net and Huth was named as scorer so he must have got a touch to it to send it past Howard. How it got through all those bodies I will never know.

Although only 15mins in I must admit I had that dreaded thought that it would be enough for Stoke to take the points and that was based on what I had seen to that point and we had really looked like a team with little purpose and even less conviction. We did try to play out from the back and a lot of stuff went down the left and Bilyaletdinov was involved quite a lot. Some of his crosses were good and one had the keeper clawing the ball away from under the bar but alas on other occasions he was less than competent in the ?choose the right ball stakes?. Stoke were just being Stoke and hoofing and looking to gain advantage from falling whenever possible to get a set piece within range but even this tactic ensured they had the better or more threatening chances even though possession was greater to ourselves. Howard had to tip headers over the bar and the resultant corners were always difficult to handle.

On the cusp of half-time we gained a corner and it was well taken by Bilyaletdinov and Fellaini headed wide but immediately claimed a penalty and from my seat he certainly seemed to be held by Shawcross. But our ref today Mr Lee Mason was having none of it and he did indeed ref the game in the same way as he always does seeming not to give a toss and give what he thinks with as little fuss as possible, certainly no obsessive card waiver. Well at least you could say he was consistent game on game which was more than could be said for our lot as the half drew to a close. I am not sure who the half-time boo?s were for, it could have been ref or players or very likely both.

Second half and no Blue changes and so began one of the most lack lustre turgid halves I have witnessed for years probably back to Walter?s or Walkers days. Not a lot happened worthy of note but rather a catalogue of misplaced passes, hoof balls, pretty play across the back four that went nowhere and nothing to worry either keeper.
Then on 70mins Cahill was in on goal the keeper came out and floored him without seeming to touch the ball. The ref gave a corner!!

Well I did say he didn?t seem to give a toss and certainly was not going to give a major decision to either side. The keeper then lay down then got up then went down again and the medics came on, they got him up and looked to walk him of but he struggled and indicated he wanted to stay on then went down again. The upshot of this lengthy episode was for him to be stretchered off and replaced by the reserve keeper to a cacophony of boos from the faithful. The new keeper I am sad to report was not to be tested for the rest of the game. The closest we came was when a Baines cross went across the box and only needed a slight connection to score yet a whole posse of Blues contrived to miss it, you really had to wonder how.

7 mins of injury time shown due to the antics of the Stoke keeper. It will be interesting to find out just what is wrong with him. Those 7mins brought nothing for me to tell you about.

MotM ? Fellaini

Overall a game to forget and summed up by Baines who last week at Bolton was superb yet today was at best woeful and the team followed suite thus making the word inconsistent applicable. Today in my opinion only Howard, Hibbert, Heitinga and Fellaini looked competent premiership players, which is really not very encouraging. It was sad to see Fellaini remonstrating fiercely with team-mates such as Baines, Coleman, Vellios and Cahill but it was even sadder to realise he was right and they did need the telling off. I am not sure what he was saying but I bet movement off the ball was one subject.

The manager tried subs. Rodwell on the hour mark, Stracqualursi and Gueye around 80mins but without much success. Rodwell looked ok but the other two I don?t think are to be with us that long.

Where do we go from here? Well its Arsenal next week and at the moment a drubbing could result but Footy is never quite like that well at least I hope it?s not. The manager didn?t look his usual self in the technical area today and I think the club itself quickly realised things are in poor shape as no sooner had I reached my watering hole for the inquest when I got a club text to say I could have a ticket for the Swansea game half price if I bought a Norwich ticket. I felt like yelling at the phone screen ?I am a season ticket holder I have already bought my Norwich ticket? Doh!

I always avoid rumours like the plague but after today?s performance I will share two with you. From impeccable sources of course!!

1. Drenthe will not play for us again after having the manager by the throat last Thursday at training.

2. An interested party in Qatar are at the due diligence stage.

I am sure I don?t really believe it but it did give some pain and cheer in equal measure on a lousy day to be watching the Blues. Play like we did today and Tamworth may become giant-killers. Only kidding.

See you at the Emirates.

Reader Comments

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Martin Mason
1   Posted 05/12/2011 at 02:43:15

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Good report. My own feeling was that it was a game between two middling premiership side and it was won by the side that was better organised and worked the hardest; they won like Everton used to winand you can see that we probably pissed fans off across the country.

With the current squad we are a poor side in reality and I don't hold that it is just Moyes juggling his players badly. Osman, Hibbert, Bily, Vellios and even Coleman are simply journeymen and we play like a journeyman team as a result. Fellaini was imperious but what can one man do? Our real problem is not our strikers, nobody could play well at Everton, our problem is midfield weakness that prevents us getting the final ball to the players in the box.
Frank Yelash
2   Posted 05/12/2011 at 03:47:52

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Good report as always Ken. Watching at 4.00 in the morning on the other side of the world was hard work. I was really hoping for a good win, but given the nature of being an Evertonian, was expecting a poor result.

As for the Keeper incident. Sorenson clearly got the ball first in an excellent bit of brave goalkeeping. Cahill caught him with his hip on the head on the way past. It would really have hurt. I thought the fans reaction in the ground was uncalled for. A couple of other shouts for penalty were a heck of a lot better than that.

Shawcross had Vellios in a head lock and somehow Velios got pinged for kicking him in the head! The ref was hopeless but, my goodness, we were much worse. I'm a Cahill fan but he is due a rest. I say we give Bily a chance in his preferred position ? for a few games too. He can't be any worse than Cahill at the moment.
Adam Fenlon
3   Posted 05/12/2011 at 06:26:07

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I seem to remember Segundo Castillo also had a rumour that he was banished from the squad for choking Moyes a few years ago. I think the fact he was rubbish might also have not helped him.

Hope its not true about Drenthe though.
Ian Smitham
4   Posted 05/12/2011 at 07:46:56

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Thank you Ken for all of your varied comments, including those setting the tone in the early paragraghs, wading through the match and a couple of gems to end with.

From my seat, which was especially cold, and wet, I agree with your summary and believe that there is alot to do to warm us up and sustain crowd numbers over the coming months
John Ford
5   Posted 05/12/2011 at 08:27:34

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Accurately portrays what was a turgid dire game.

I didnt notice Fellaini having a go at other players. That actually cheers me, as did Felaini's contribution. He had nothing to work with but was tireless in the cause. The thing I like most about him is his desire to take the ball from anywhere on the park, always makes himself available, often without any support.
James Morgan
6   Posted 05/12/2011 at 08:31:51

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If I was an Everton player I'd have Moyes by the throat! How would you feel constantly seeing the same failing tactics and players week in week out? Or being told you need to work on your defense even though you are about the only real, exciting attack minded footballer at the club?

I used to be a Moyes fan, then I moved and sat on the fence, but now I'm fed up with the guy. He should resign because a) he has taken us as far as he can, b) because his board are a useless bunch of liars and c) he's lost the plot.

Bring in Nigel Adkins from Southampton and Big Dunc as his number 2, maybe then we will see passion and attacking football!
Bob Skelton
7   Posted 05/12/2011 at 09:50:02

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Absolute garbage. Got absolutely drowned walking to the game. Sat there freezing...not a shot on goal. Saw the team, couldn't believe that Moyes put out the smallest team he could muster against a team who come from the land of the giants. It was laughable seeing Crouch v Hibbert or any of our back line, with Distin and Rodwell on the bench....

Then the big joke. We bring everyone back for a corner and we still leave a player free at the edge of the box and guess what ? they score....

Biggest sarky cheer when Vellios went to the halfway line when they had a corner.

Master Tactician Moyes... what a joke. A blind man could have picked a better team. Really looking forward to Tamworth... haha!
Chris Fisher
8   Posted 05/12/2011 at 10:26:02

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That was a shocking performance!!

Anyway... on to the souless Emirates and at least a point then 6 points against Norwich and Swansea please! Dont ruin my Christmas Blue boys!!

Missed Saha today and for those who keep calling for Vellios to start, he is not ready yet and starting yesterday and at Fulham prove that. He needs more time, he is good but when it comes to it Saha or Vellios, it's not even a contest. Starting the both of them on the other hand...... COYB
Simon Atkins
9   Posted 05/12/2011 at 10:37:41

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I totally agree with everyone who says that we were utter crap yesterday. As I stated in another thread I was bored from start to finish.

What I would say though is looking at the bench what other team could Moyes have played that would have made a difference? Ok, maybe Rodwell from the start but he is more of a guy that keeps things moving rather than a game changer. All of this points to the total lack of investment which is coming home to roost.

As for the rumours, Ken, I dearly hope that one is right and the other is wrong. I will leave you to work out which way I am thinking.

Very depressing.
Dick Fearon
10   Posted 05/12/2011 at 09:31:26

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How many hundred times have we complained about Moyes having his entire team crowding the penalty area to defend corners and free kicks? The Stoke goal was a classic example of the utter stupidity of that tactic.

While our players were jostling each other for room in an over-crowded six-yard box, Whitehead had acres of space and all the time in the world to drill a low shot that our American Toffees would describe as like shooting fish in a barrel.

With one of his favourite tactics so clearly exposed, it was noticeable at subsequent corners that Moyes had a player patrolling that space. Was it really neccesary that it took that goal for him to see the light or after 10 years he is still on that learning curve?

Fellaini remonstrating with Coleman and Rodwell was clearly evident and not before time. At one time TV showed him screaming and gesticulating at Osman for help.
Kevin Gillen
11   Posted 05/12/2011 at 11:10:31

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Couldn't even bring myself to watch the highlights. Let's face it, we are crap. Blaming the manager doesn't work for me either. We lack depth but most of all we lack quality in the wide areas and up front.

Much as I have enjoyed having Tim Cahill as an Evertonian, I think the time has come for him... and sadly having a good attitude is no good if you can't shoot or pass properly like Bilyaletdinov. As for the Drenthe rumours, does anyone think he is at Goodison for the long-term?
Tim Kirk
12   Posted 05/12/2011 at 11:40:43

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If true, Drenthe seems to be repeating his performance at Herclues (Alicante) last season. Looked great up to Xmas then fell out with management and hardly played again.

Watching Everton yesterday was like watching England at the World Cup last year ? there was no spark and never looked like getting close to a goal. Disheartening times
Ant Ellis
13   Posted 05/12/2011 at 09:49:32

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James, not really sure your arguement stands up there mate.

a) He has taken as far as he can.... how do we know this until he's given the opportunity to spend decent money?

b) Because his board are a useless bunch of liars... and that's Moyes fault why??

c) He's lost the plot... well we're all entitled to our opinions, it's what makes TW such a great football site but I personally don't feel he's doing a whole lot differently to what he's ever done. He's always aired on the side of caution, with the exception of Pienaar and Arteta both of whom were team players.
Ian Kearney
14   Posted 05/12/2011 at 16:02:21

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I dont blame Felli one little bit, especially with Osman, he should be captain.
David Hallwood
15   Posted 05/12/2011 at 21:44:47

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Kevin Gillen~ 11 'Couldn't even bring myself to watch the highlights' Highlights?! What fuckin' highlights

Ian Smitham
16   Posted 05/12/2011 at 22:25:33

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Martin #1 How are Osman and Hibbert journeymen??
Michael Winstanley
17   Posted 05/12/2011 at 23:54:41

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Thanks Ken, great report as usual.

I did think Gueye showed the ability to pick a pass and hopefully will be given more game time.

I hope one of your rumours is true!
Kevin Gillen
18   Posted 06/12/2011 at 08:41:05

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Dave Hallwood - good point! Football is meant to be an entertainment after all.
Ste Bowness
19   Posted 06/12/2011 at 22:40:24

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Drenthe didn't squeeze hard enough!!!

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