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Season 2011-12

All a Bit of a Let-Down

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  04/02/2012
 25 Comments (Last)

Wigan Athletic 1 - 1 Everton

Everton recovered from conceding a calamitous goal to grab a point at Wigan but left their sizeable traveling contingent with the feeling that this was an opportunity missed against the Premier League's bottom club.

Victor Anichebe came off the bench to score another crucial goal but there was more embarassment for Tim Howard at the other end as a deflection off Phil Neville spun off a divot and through his hands to give the home side a lead they never looked like earning on their own.

Ironically, it was the Latics' goal that sparked the urgency from the Blues that they had otherwised lacked to drive home their superiority in a dour second half played in the cold wet at the DW Stadium.

David Moyes opted for one of his two new signings from the start, deploying Steven Pienaar from the start on the left flank and leaving Nikica Jelavic on the substitutes' bench, but it was the manager's decision to bring Phil Neville on and not the Croatian striker for the injured Tim Cahill at half time that will have raised eyebrows.

Indeed, despite the South African slotting back into left midfield like he'd never left and providing the lively link-up play that was at the heart of Everton's best moments early, the Blues just looked ponderous and tame up front for much of this sleet-driven encounter.

Denis Stracqualursi was rewarded for two impressive displays by keeping his place up front and his workrate was undiminished but he and Cahill made for a fairly leaden-footed partnership, with Everton attacks again breaking down when things got tight in the final third.

The Argentine did force the first save of the game, though, with a toe-poked affort that Ali Al-Habsi gathered comfortably after 12 minutes, that came at a time when the Blues were stroking the ball around really nicely at times. But for all their patience and probing going forward, Everton created few chances and their momentum stalled, as usual, around the 20 mimute mark.

However, while Jean Beausejour was providing regular service into the Blues' area from the Wigan left, the central defensive partnership of John Heitinga and the returning Sylvain Distin were mopping things up fairly comfortably even if the Frenchman looked a little rusty in the first half.

Chances were at a premium and after Heitinga had hooked a soft shot into the 'keeper's arms and brilliant defending by Tony Hibbert had denied Franco di Santo, Darron Gibson side-footed the best chance of the first 45 miuntes disappointingly over the bar. Leighton Baines had robbed Emerson Boyce superbly on the left and cut the ball back invitingly from the byline but Gibson was unable to repeat his heroics from Tuesday evening.

Moyes's mystifying decision to put Neville on at the break and move Marouane Fellaini forward alongside the isolated Stracqualursi did not help matters and the lack of a striker with a natural touch in the box was evidenced eight minutes into the second half when the Argentine delivered a great cross to the Belgian but Fellaini's first touch was poor and the chance was lost.

Jelavic finally got his chance with an hour gone, though, when he replaced Stracqualursi, but the fact that he barely touched the ball in half an hour on the pitch and Landon Donovan was simillarly anonymous was perhaps illustrative of how Everton's early cohesion had evaporated.

Indeed, with neither side showing much ability to win it, the game appeared to be drifting towards a goalless conclusion when disaster struck in the Everton defence with 15 minutes to go. Neville stuck out a leg to block a Beausejour cross from the left and the ball spun off the uneven turf, wrong-footing Howard and the American just flapped at air as the ball dropped into the net.

Everton responded ? as they had to ? though, and when Baines' 82nd-minute corner came back to him and he whipped a left-footer in at the second attempt, substitute Victor Anichebe rose to glance a perfect header into the far corner to bring the Blues level again.

Unfortunately, though, Moyes's side were not able to seize the initiative to steal a late win. Jelavic won a late free kick when he was wrestled to the ground by Maynor Figueroa but Baines swept the resulting free kick over the bar.

Overall, a highly disappointing performance after the fireworks against City on Tuesday evening and in the final reckoning it's going to be in results like these where the chance for European qualification was lost. The first quarter of proceedings aside, urgency was missing and the introduction of Neville for Cahill combined with the decision not to introduce Royston Drenthe at some point was a misstep that perhaps assumed that the Blues would be able to force a goal from somewhere against a poor Wigan team.

With just 15 games of another lost season remaining, you'd think that the manager would have gone a bit more gung-ho once it had become clear that Wigan were there for the taking if Everton could just create some clear-cut chances. Ultimately, it's this conservatism and lack of dynamism in Moyes's approach that will keep the critics on his back.

Player Ratings: Howard 5, Hibbert 7 (Anichebe 7), Heitinga 7, Distin 6, Baines 7, Gibson 5, Fellaini 6, Donovan 6, Pienaar 7*, Cahill 5 (Neville 5) Stracqualursi 6 (Jelavic 6),

Reader Comments

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Thomas McGrath
494   Posted 04/02/2012 at 20:56:32

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Donovan behind Denis were he plays and Drenthe on the wing.... simple!
Phil Brown
499   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:11:11

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Barkley behind dennis - he would be a revelation without any defensive responsibilities.
Ted Smeethes
503   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:33:37

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Great result today, another away point towards safety. Had we lost on Tuesday against the top of the table team and won today against the bottom team we would have had 3 pts, instead we have 4. Happy days.
Richard Earle
506   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:11:16

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Or Drenthe with Strac/Jelavic and Donovan and Pienaar on wings. Certainly worth a try. I don't understand the defensive mindedness of Moyes. The guy's a conundrum within an enigma.
Richard Earle
508   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:43:22

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So many things to try but he sticks to the same old formation. Mega frustrating.
Nick Entwistle
510   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:40:53

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Fallaini behind Denis with Neville in the middle.

Without the mud slinging, what tactical reason would Moyes choose this over Jelly or Drenthe upfront with Denis and Fallaini in the middle?

The game was open, Fallaini was doing well, and there's match winners on the bench. Fallaini goes upfront and Johan Neville comes into the middle.

Why!? Arghhhhhhh!
Derek Thomas
512   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:44:12

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Alternative Title; Players have City hangover as Moyes reverts to type-again!
Alex Kociuba
513   Posted 04/02/2012 at 21:55:05

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Playing above average should mean beating Wigan. Every week player scores are 6 or 7's. Cahill and Neville 5/10? I think 2/10 or 3/10 would be more accurate?
Jay Harris
516   Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:18:13

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It seems the only time this team get going is when it's backs against the wall.

I wish Wigan had scored much earlier then it would have shaken us out of the slumber.

Alternatively we could have had a manager with balls who played two up front and told them to go out there and thrash a very poor Wigan side.

This was a game we could and should have won comfortably.

Never mind Chelsea next let's see if we can nick another point towards safety.
Gavin Ramejkis
517   Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:05:13

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A few telling points again, several players below par again, the substitution of Neville pretty much summed up Moyes playing for a draw which just isn't good enough off the back of the win against City and far too bloody negative. His post match drivel of happy with a point reinforced what most had already seen.

And you wonder why people are fed up with him?
Kase Chow
519   Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:18:26

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I think we Evertonians can accept not winning/losses when they come against superior teams playing better than us. But when we don't even 'have a go' it's sad, pathetic, weak and annoying...just frustrating

It's for reasons like this that I've fallen out of love with Moyes. I hate CONTINUOUSLY playing like cowards.
Dick Fearon
524   Posted 04/02/2012 at 22:30:06

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I am more than angry that once again after a piss poor performance against a cellar dweller Moyes barefacedly spouts more excuses for another totally unacceptable display. Are we supposed to believe the shit that comes out of his mouth as gospel. If that is truly what he expects then we are mired deeper in the doggy doo than ever before.
Time after time lowly Wigan sliced us open only to be denied by desperate last minute interceptions by Hibbert, Heitinga and Distin.
The closer we got to their goal our own attacks lamely petered out. After that lack lustre performance it is becoming more than ever true that Moyes does not have a clue about attacking football. Whatever he is feeding into the players shows his lamentable ability in that part of the game.
My biggest worry is that he actually believes his own words.

with premiership survival the best we can hope for.

Once again our maestro should glance across the park to learn from Daglish.
Dick Fearon
528   Posted 04/02/2012 at 23:09:25

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Apropos my comment about Dalglish was meant to show that publicly lambasting the players after a bad performance gives an accurate and more importantly, a truer version of events.

Daglish has has a much stronger idea of what is acceptable and holds a much higher regard for the intelligence of RS supporters than Moyes has for ours.
Stuart Critchley
531   Posted 04/02/2012 at 23:33:37

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Right, Neville on for Timmy, Jelly & Royston collecting splinters on their bottoms, against Wigan... And the annoying thing is, you all know we will dick Chelsea, but why not Wigan?
Steavey Buckley
542   Posted 05/02/2012 at 00:10:35

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Get the feeling, if Everton could not beat Wigan side, which does not know how to win, even at home, it may turn out be a tedious run into the last game of the season, from now on. Just hope there is a continued good cup run.
Kenn Crawford
555   Posted 05/02/2012 at 01:12:33

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Just another Moyes fuck-up; he never ceases to amaze... Neville for Cahill, WTF? Can we not play a game without one of his favorites on the park? The mind boggles at his tactics and substitutions... another shit effort.
Peter Barry
559   Posted 05/02/2012 at 02:14:03

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Ted Smeethes ? and if my Aunty had balls she'd be my uncle. Your post makes as much sense as that. All our pre-match optimism was soon washed away by yet ANOTHER Dire Dross Display orchestrated by Tactics Devid Dire Dour Davey. Who, for the SECOND time this season, made the tactical masterstroke of replacing an injured Striker with ANOTHER Defender when playing inferior opposition and without even having the pathetic excuse of defending a lead.
Jason Heng
562   Posted 05/02/2012 at 02:32:16

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Any of the Moyes critics ever wondered how many times have his late substitutions come on to rescue the game? - Vellios and Anichibe are our top-scorers with 3 each.

He knows the limitations of our squad and is thus forced to play his cards at the right time.

Now, don't blame him for the limitations of the squad - this transfer window confirms that he knows what is missing, but can't do anything until the money is in.
Dick Fearon
588   Posted 05/02/2012 at 09:19:20

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Jason # 562, If it takes our subs to score much needed goals why oh why does Moyes wait so long before using them.

Come to that, why aren't they on from the start. Only Moyes can answer that but don't hold your breath waiting for him.
He treats the fans like mushrooms.
Paul Jamieson
607   Posted 05/02/2012 at 09:57:17

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Is Moyes playing the wrong players as a tactical ploy to deflect attention away from the Board?

We all see how he says it's his fault not theirs, he has less than 18months on his contract and he was full of praise for the Spurs Board recently.

If 'Arry gets the England job, expect in my opinion to see Moyes leave and to become a completely different (fluid and attacking) manager.
Mick Gallagher
694   Posted 05/02/2012 at 15:34:31

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4 of the 6 outfield subs Jelavic, Drenthe, Anichebe and Gueye and he puts fucking NEVILLE on DEFEND DEFEND DEFEND nice one Davie. A point gained at the mighty fucking Wigan.
Billy Bradshaw
739   Posted 05/02/2012 at 19:01:15

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Same old, same old, I am afraid; when is Moyes going to release the shackles and go for it for once? The game was there for the taking and yet again he astounds everyone with his substitutions, or lack of them.

So come on, Moyes ? we are virtually safe now, so let's start having a go from the first whistle and show a positive attitude..
Danny Kewley
760   Posted 05/02/2012 at 20:53:46

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Moyes has got to stop this "dour man with a negative plan" outlook on the tactics of our games. The reality is we have 14 games left and need 10 points; so we might as well play good attacking football and cheer the fans up. Who knows? ... We might even sneak into Europe!

Even if we don't, we'll finish the season on a high!
Stephen Kenny
816   Posted 06/02/2012 at 09:33:17

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Would Spurs come in for Moyes if Harry goes down???

I really, really hope so. Get Big Joe or Sheedy in for a few months and then get Redknapp in once he's done his porridge. He might be a dodgy knut with too much skin but he knows how the game should be played.
Andrew Ellams
818   Posted 06/02/2012 at 09:55:23

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Don't get me wrong, Tuesday against City was great. But at the end of the day, we played for a point and hope we might nick one as per usual but this time it came off. The only difference was the opposition, if that performance had been against Stoke or Fulham it would have been a different story and Saturday would not have been such a let down.

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