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Season 2011-12

Optimism Evaporates at the DW

By Luke  O'Farrell   ::  05/02/2012
 17 Comments (Last)
The travelling fans' anger and despair was clear, within seconds, as the Wigan PA announced Everton's half time change. Marouane Fellaini moved into an advanced role with Neville occupying central midfield. The substitution signalled the death knell for Everton's hopes of winning the match. Moving your best central midfielder, behind the striker, is a bad enough tactical ploy. Introducing a right back, for an attacking midfielder, just compounds it.

Everton showed two changes from Tuesday with Royston Drenthe and Phil Neville dropping to the bench. The impressive Steven Pienaar made his second début and a recall greeted the fit again Sylvain Distin; his performance was ring rusty. The match began in a low-key fashion, with neither side getting to grips with the sub standard pitch.

Pienaar showed his class, early on, as a lung-busting run ended in a chance for Denis Stracqualursi. The Argentine's finish was poor, although the offside flag rendered it meaningless. Wigan's first real opening came down the left. Jordi Gomez found himself in space, but Distin was first to react, to the cross, and the danger was gone. Jean Beausejour was Wigan's biggest threat, in the early exchanges, as Hibbert seemed off the pace.

Wigan had more of the ball, early on, but Everton looked threatening. This was down to the industry and class of Pienaar and Fellaini, in midfield. More good work by Pienaar saw Cahill fire over from the edge of the area. A slick one-two between Landon Donovan and Stracqualursi ended, with the forward's toe-poke easily saved by Al Habsi.

With 20 minutes gone, Wigan had their only real chance. After some unconvincing defending, from Distin, Maynor Figueroa's long ball found Franco Di Santo. The forward's scuffed effort allowed Howard to save to with ease. Gomez fired a free kick over and Pienaar did likewise, at the other end, when the ball fell to him, in the Wigan area.

Heitinga had an awkward attempt from a corner, as his connection lacked the necessary power. Leighton Baines was quiet, offensively, but almost created the opener. Darron Gibson met the full back's cross and blazed over with the ball taking a bobble, as he struck it. That was the last opening of the first half and the home side appeared there for the taking, if Everton could raise their game in the second period.

The second half began, and the fans' optimism seeped away, as Neville came on for Cahill. Pienaar and Donovan, the two attacking players capable of creating a chance, combined well but there was no end product. A chance fell to Fellaini, in his new advanced position, however a poor touch meant the chance as gone.

Gibson tried his luck from distance, as the clock approached the hour mark. Nikica Jelavic made his Everton début, with 30 minutes left, replacing the tireless Stracqualursi. The Croatian had some useful touches and a clever dummy nearly presented Fellaini with a chance. The Everton fans will hope to see more of him against Chelsea, next week.

Wigan took the lead, in bizarre fashion, with 15 minutes remaining. The impressive Beausejour's driven cross took a deflection off Neville. Tim Howard let the ball bounce, as he came to collect it, the ball hit a divot and spun the opposite way. The goal left Howard embarrassed and Everton trailing.

Victor Moses ought to have put the game beyond doubt; his selfish decision to shoot, and not pass, saw the opportunity go begging. Victor Anichebe came on for Tony Hibbert, as Moyes used his final change. Anichebe joined Jelavic up front with Fellaini back in his favoured midfield role. Unsurprisingly, Everton began to look the better team again.

Anichebe lived up to his super sub tag with the Everton equaliser; late cameos seem the best use for the Nigerian. Baines returned his own cleared corner with interest and Anichebe guided a fine header into the far corner. Neither side looked likely to score another, despite their best efforts. The referee brought a promising Everton move to an abrupt halt with a strange decision to penalise Jelavic. Injury time saw a Wigan scramble in the Everton area, after Howard flapped at a corner. The danger was gone, after Crusat handled it.

The game will go down as a missed opportunity with Everton unable to build on Tuesday's win over City. Pienaar's second Everton début and the DW's choice of music were the only two bright points, from yesterday. Donovan is sometimes anonymous and his refusal to shoot is becoming frustrating.

Fellaini played well, despite moving position throughout. John Heitinga and Baines continued their recent good runs of form. Gibson used the ball well but, you get the impression, he has more to offer. Hibbert did not look fit although he improved as the game wore on. Cahill and his replacement, Neville, were both poor. As their Everton careers wind down, so should their game time.

Everton's first change saw David Moyes's negative core rear its ugly head, once again. The change gives the impression that Everton are happy with a point. For the fans, at least, this simply is not the case. Four points from these two games is not disastrous but, when three of those points come against Manchester City, a point at Wigan simply is not good enough.

Ratings: Howard 4 Hibbert 6 Heitinga 7 Distin 6 Baines 7 Donovan 6 Gibson 5 Fellaini 7 Pienaar 8* Cahill 5 Stracqualursi 5

Subs: Neville 5, Jelavic 6, Anichebe 6

Reader Comments

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Kevin Elliott
771   Posted 05/02/2012 at 23:35:51

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Normal service has been resumed.
Ste Traverse
777   Posted 06/02/2012 at 00:04:08

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THAT substitution was a fucking disgrace and about sums up the negativity of Moyes. I would have been pissed off had he done that against a top side,let alone bloody Wigan.

All those attacking players on the bench and he choose to throw Neville on who goes on to score a comical own goal?



Lucky to get a point in the end.
Liam Reilly
780   Posted 06/02/2012 at 00:27:08

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Unfortunately have to agree Ste, once again the substitution left us with no creativity in midfield, when the game was crying out for a bit of something different, ala a Drenthe or a Barkley. Oh hang on Drenthe can't defend and Barkley only starts in the reserves.

It was WIGAN For fucks sake Davey.

James Stewart
781   Posted 06/02/2012 at 00:47:54

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Pretty spot on with your ratings and analysis. Tactically it was one of Moyes's very worst. And there has been some horror shows.
Paul Ferry
785   Posted 06/02/2012 at 01:10:07

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Ratings: Howard 3 Hibbert 6 Heitinga 6 Distin 7 Baines 7 Donovan 4 Gibson 3 Fellaini 7 Pienaar 7 Cahill 3 Stracqualursi 5

Subs: Neville 3, Jelavic 6, Anichebe 6
Paul Ferry
787   Posted 06/02/2012 at 01:12:26

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Oh, and Moyes 2.
Mick Davies
788   Posted 06/02/2012 at 01:24:27

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The five most important men who control our team are:

David Moyes, ex-defender who never really played at the top level.

Steve Round, ex-defender who made less than 10 professional appearances.

Jimmy Lumsden, a 64-year-old ex-defensive midfielder who played 4 games for Leeds before dropping down the leagues.

Andy Holden, ex-defender who never got anywhere near the top flight of English football; and

Alan Stubbs, as we all know, another defender, and the most experienced of them all... but not the most intelligent.

These are the guys who are in charge of our side's fortunes on the pitch so it's no wonder we are so defensive, and usually so clueless going forward.
Paul Ferry
795   Posted 06/02/2012 at 03:07:03

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All Moyes's picks to boot Mick ? spot on ? it's EFC's own safety-first bootroom looking backwards and sideways and locking things down rather than looking even sheepishly and gingerly up at the other box.

All back at corners: scandalous. Neville in, THOSE subs: scandalous: 6/7 defenders: scandalous. No Drenthe: scandalous. Cahill: scandalous. Saha from August-January: scandalous. Hoofball: scandalous. No Barkley: scandalous. Not even Barkley warming the bench: scandalous.

Impression all this just gives to brighter flair players who want to play joined-up footie: scandalous. Only Lord God Sheeds in the top backroom staff thinking alair and forwards: scandalous. Being linked to defenders all the fucking time: scandalous. Lack of creativity: scandalous.

All of us being so relieved that LD came back from Manhattan Beach for a little while because there was precious little else to feel good about: scandalous. Moyes and his safety-first uninspiring lets get those 40 points in the bag: scandalous. Goals scored in the prem this season: FUCKING scandalous.

And for all that safety-first scripture, the Neville-Howard shameful and pitiful deblace at the pie-eaters: scandalous. Trevor Steven and Inchy and Brace and Ratters and "He's fat, he's round he's worth a million pounds and yes Lord Sheedy (praise him) but not sell-out Sharp must be drowning in dreary dour defensively-minded Davey's displays: And so on and so on: scandalous.

Something has to change.
Arthur Westhead
807   Posted 06/02/2012 at 08:17:02

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Paul 795

That's a brilliant comment. Said everything I feel. But you could add re-signing McFadden ? Scandalous!
Dick Fearon
810   Posted 06/02/2012 at 07:57:42

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Dear father in heaven,

Why o' why did you place that divot precisely where Philip's deflected clearance would land?

Could you also please explain why we are forever cursed with rotten luck? If it is not the wind to blame for all our woes, it is the state of the pitch, injuries, poor refereeing or lack of cash.

With no help from you, I am battling against the odds down here. My training facilities are the best in the country, my players are always up for it, my tactics are perfect, my substitutions are spot on, er' why dear God are you laughing.

Signed, the Moyessiah
Stephen Kenny
813   Posted 06/02/2012 at 09:02:30

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Whenever I wonder if Moyes want's us to play a short passing game opposed to long balls and high balls into the box I'll remember him pushing Mo up front in this game.

Don't forget folks he's probably forgot more about football than most of us know.
Wayne McNee
864   Posted 06/02/2012 at 13:38:52

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Total agreement PF... Scandalous!

Mick.. Spot on. How can it ever get any better.

When Moyes came he was basically nobody... Promising, up & coming maybe. He steadied the ship somewhat & took us away from regular relegation battles. Cheers Davey... Now fuck off! If you gave him the Barca' team he'd fuck that up. What sets him apart from the other 2 longest serving Prem Mgrs is exactly why he should go now! Won nowt.

If we're gonna put up with trophyless, unproven managers. I'd give Di Canio a shot right now before he starts to demand the price anywhere near the £65k DM's on. Passion, knowledge of playing at the very highest level. That'll do me.
Keith Glazzard
912   Posted 06/02/2012 at 16:57:56

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Mick Davies - totally agree.

And as I think about it, there's nobody in that list who is going to disagree with the boss. Taking any boss on is a risky way of earning a living. Doesn't sound like a bunch of risk-takers, does it.
Dick Fearon
014   Posted 07/02/2012 at 00:55:26

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They are Moyes clones, not one of them is capable of innovation.
Peter Barry
035   Posted 07/02/2012 at 07:52:06

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All the Moyesophiles bleat the same mantra "who is better than Tactically inept Dreary Depressing Dire Dour Davey" and the answer of course is virtually anyone especially anyone who could command the £67,000 a week that TD4 gets. There must be tens of if not hundreds of motivational, inspiring, willing, POSITIVE, tactically aware managers out there who would jump at the chance of trousering £67,000 a WEEK.
Dick Fearon
056   Posted 07/02/2012 at 10:06:59

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Peter # 035,
Managers a merely glorified office boy coaches. We could get two for that kind of money. One of them could specialise on the half of the pitch that is a foreign country to Davy.
Steve O'Malley
059   Posted 07/02/2012 at 10:23:40

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Give Alan Curbishley a 2-year deal. As a player at West Ham, he grew up in a team playing attractive football and he did an excellent job at Charlton.

He only left the managers job at West Ham in protest at transfer policy at the club. He is a young man and in my opinion worth a shot.

I think Davey's fan base is diminishing with each frustrating game ? and rightly so.

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