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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

A Fun End To The Season

By Paul Traill   ::  13/05/2012
 10 Comments (»Last)
I?ve never quite understood why the last game of the season is always now on Sunday. It does tame the event a little as you say goodbye to your match day pals for the summer and with work invariably the next day, the Sunday match limits your drinking options.

This was the case today and so I drove on to the match, picking up Gary and Sue, Ste meeting us in the pub a little later on, and noticeably worse for wear following a heavy weekend. It was nice to also see some other friends attending the game from as far afield as Canada and even Australia?it was all shaping up for a nice afternoon at the match.

I deliberated over a bet on the match but these things never pay out for me so I thought better of it in the end (I was going to go for Everton win 2-1 Jelavic last goal if you?re interested). The Croat was indeed spearheading the attack in a generally unsurprising team. Baines, Neville and Pienaar all back in. The biggest surprise was probably the exclusion of Distin with Player of the Season Johnny Heitinga and Phil Jagielka partnering at centre back. Newcastle Utd began with the fearsome strike duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse in attack with internationals Yohan Cabaye, Fabricio Coloccini, Haem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez all involved in the starting XI. A ?must-win? for Newcastle Utd if they were to have any chance of grabbing a Champions League place, not exactly a ?must-win? for Everton but certainly an important game as we, yet again, aim to finish well?and therefore, yet again, hope to start well next term.

Onto the match and Goodison Park really is some sight when, as today, it?s full to capacity with the sun shining. Regardless, many eyes and ears were elsewhere with everything else that could have been decided today. The title race had gone to the wire, as to had the race for Champions League qualification, relegation spots and, for us, the battle of Merseyside. A lot to play for all round as Andre Marriner got the game underway at a blustery Goodison Park. Newcastle Utd sported a maroon kit and attacked towards us in the Lower Gwladys in the first half, almost grabbing an early lead straight away when Howard grabbed on the goal line following a harsh free kick award from Marriner. Both sets of supporters in good voice.

Newcastle Utd?s early opening didn?t appear to deter Everton and after a nervy five minutes or so we settled into the game. Fellaini made the most of a punt into the box from Neville and headed narrowly wide with our first real opening before the goal. Marriner was frustrating the crowd and players alike. He booked Heitinga early for no good reason really and gave a lot of free kicks in Newcastle?s direction until he finally decided to, also harshly, book Tiote?generally he was making a mess of officiating. Nevertheless we were soon ahead, albeit fortuitously. Pienaar getting the ball at the edge of the box, taking a touch and having a dip at goal, the ball taking a sizeable deflection off Williamson and beating Krul? cruely. It was unfortunate for Newcastle as there had been little between the teams at that point.

The goal gave Everton the initiative and we really got into our grove from here. Pienaar and Baines began to combine better and the team suddenly looked hungrier. From a corner we came close when Osman did well to keep the ball alive, playing the ball back across the box and Pienaar was alert but could only drill his effort onto the outside of the post and behind. Thankfully the second goal wasn?t a long time coming. Heitinga playing a hopeful ball forward, Newcastle?s defense switched off, Jelavic very much switched on, taking the ball forward and getting his shot away. Krul saved well, though Jelavic followed up brilliantly to double our money. Thinks were looking rosy. Elsewhere Man Utd were wining 1-0, Man City tied at 0-0.

Off the ball and Cabaye got himself in a spot of bother with the Bullens Road after apparently pushing a ball boy though I didn?t see the incident myself. On another day Newcastle Utd might have gotten back into the game prior to the break with Ba and Cisse both shooting wide from the edge of the box, but other than that it was all smiles as we went into the break?all smiles in the blue half of Manchester also as Man City lead 1-0 at the break also. Bolton also winning 2-1 at Stoke meaning QPR were starring down the barrel.

At half-time Bob Latchford came onto the pitch to great applause as I congregated with Ste and Sean. Alan Pardew rang the changes at the break to try and get Newcastle clicking?Taylor and Marveaux replacing Santon and Perch. I?m not so sure the substitutions were the reason but Newcastle certainly came out of the blocks quicker after the break though Everton were able to smother their pressure whilst Jelavic did what he could with a few scraps as Everton held firm. When it came to adding a third goal the momentum had swung back in our favor again when horror marking by Newcastle allowed Heitinga to leap and head home a Gibson free kick to seal the game with 25 minutes still to play. By this point I think QPR were actually winning at Man City with Man Utd still ahead. Bolton meanwhile were level at Stoke whilst Arsenal now lead at the Hawthorns. It was all happening. Back to Everton, and I think that was Heitinga?s last involvement in the game as he was then subbed for Distin. By this point Jagielka was on goal kick duty as Howard had somehow injured his knee and was unable to kick though the American copped OK otherwise.

With the game sown up all that was left was the icing on the cake of a Tony Hibbert goal, and he duly obliged, heading masterfully past Tim Howard to score I think his third own goal for Everton. Poor Tony?funny to see the Goodison crowd half cheer and the ?One Tony Hibbert? chant from the Newcastle fans did make you titter. Elsewhere I noticed some sort of whisky club going on amongst the fellas behind me with all brands of whisky being passed around in hipflasks on a crazy final day of the season.

Newcastle applied what would best be described as gentle pressure to try and get back into the match but Everton assumed control of the game, Cahill on, and nearly scoring, for Neville and a little later Jelavic subbed for a Stracqualursi farewell one would assume. With minutes ticking on Gary left for the pub to catch the end of the Man City game to see if they could swing it round. Everton on the other hand seriously threatened to run riot and could easily have added more before the full time whistle, Osman coming closest as he palmed the foot of the post after creating an opening with tremendously quick feet in the penalty area. It was party-mode at this point. Meanwhile a look at the big screen and would you believe it, Man City now lead 3-2?what an incredible day. A league win for Man City.

Back to our game and I noticed Cahill and Cabaye having something of a niggle a minute or two before full-time, and then once Marriner finally blew the full-time whistle the pair clashed again but this time everyone got involved, substitutes, coaching staff? everybody really. I missed what happened as I was watching the screen read Swansea 1-0 Liverpool at the time. Anyway, resultantly Cahill was sent off and Cabaye, who?d earlier apparently pushed a ball boy, was only yellow carded. Cahill made his way off but not before turning back to Cabaye to seemingly say ?Let's have it in the tunnel?. He had some choice words to say to Alan Pardew about his midfielder also. I?ll be interested to see what happened there. Graeme Sharpe said on the radio that Cahill grabbed Cabaye by the throat but that Cabaye had grabbed him first. Regardless? at the very end of the season would anyone have said anything if Marriner had just let it go? It?s a bit of a shame as, barring Rodwell?s rescinded one, we haven?t received any red cards this season in the league.

All that was left then was for the team to complete their lap of honour, Cahill joining in despite his red card. I long for the day we see a lap of honour to celebrate something significant. The last time I saw that was also against Newcastle Utd in our 4th place season in 2004-05?ah well, there?s always next season.

So that?s that for another year. This term I?m actually reasonably hopeful we can kick on next season?well, I will be if we can sign up Pienaar nice and early?the reality is it will likely drag on all summer and we?ll begin next season, as usual, in turbulence.

Here?s hoping for a better than usual summer at L4 4EL. Have a good summer one and all.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Coped well given he was injured. I?m interested to see Hibbert?s own goal again to see if Howard was at fault at all as it was certainly a peculiar one. 7
Baines: Had a cracking game. Distin coped well in his absence but you really see the difference when he plays. I hope he comes back safe from Euro 2012. 8
Heitinga: He marshalled Cisse and Ba extremely well and grabbed a goal before being subbed. Looks settled and should be around next season but we?ll have to see. There could be some sizeable offers should he excel at Euro 2012. 9
Jagielka: Also coped well with their strikers. Also could be set for Euro 2012. 7
Hibbert: Not set for Euro 2012! The own goal aside he did quite well today I thought. 6
Neville: Kept things ticking over nicely. 6
Gibson: Had an excellent game. Was clever on the ball, covered a lot of ground, made plenty of tackles and got an assist. Great game all round really. 8
Pienaar: Absolutely brilliant. Busy throughout, scored a goal and combined fantastically with Baines. As we all know, he has to be the priority this summer. My man of the match. 9
Osman: Did well today. Was also very busy and got stuck in and was very unlucky not to score late on. 8
Fellaini: Newcastle struggled to cope with him throughout. Prone to silliness and laziness at times but was imperious for the most part. Let?s hope he hits the ground running next season. 8
Jelavic: It?s fair to say he?s gone far beyond anybody?s expectations already this season. To think he came on the last day of the January transfer window and finished the season top goal scorer for us on double figures is simply astounding. It?s great to have a striker who works hard and makes the most out of things. I?ll have to switch to the Park End for next season because that?s where all his goals are! 9

Substitutes:
Distin (for Heitinga): After a dizzy five minutes or so he coped just fine. Hopefully he?s sticking around for next season. 7
Cahill (for Cabaye): Blotted his copybook with the red card really. He?ll miss the first three next season now. Let?s hope for better fortunes all round for Tim next season. 5
Stracqualursi (for Jelavic): I doubt we?ll pursue him and we probably shouldn?t even though he?s not a bad player really and puts in some shift game in game out. Given our resources we could probably spend the money better elsewhere. Thanks for the memories though Stracq! 6

Reader Comments

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Garry Corgan
792   Posted 13/05/2012 at 23:43:26

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Last fixtures of the season are on a Sunday because of the rule disallowing Saturday 3pm kick-offs to be televised live in the UK. You might ask why they don't just make an exception for the last day of the season, but the rule exists.

By having the games on a Sunday, they can show whichever matches they need to live.
Paul David
793   Posted 13/05/2012 at 23:45:02

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Well why can't they play the games on a Saturday and start them at 2 or 4?
Matt Traynor
794   Posted 14/05/2012 at 00:04:57

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I thought the rule was that you can't broadcast games live when there are other fixtures being played, which is the reason why Saturday 3pm is a lock out, but they do broadcast earlier and later Saturday games.

The only rule is that all games on the last day of the season have to be played simultaneously.
Robin Hunuki
796   Posted 14/05/2012 at 00:51:16

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Nice recount of the game and agreed, strange to see the games televised on a Sunday.

Anyway very nice way to top the season off! I was on Stuggle Street at 12:10am this morning trying to stay awake after what was a monstrous day... happy I recorded it as I couldn't raise the eyelids any longer.

I would love to see a game at Goodison one day!
Eric Myles
807   Posted 14/05/2012 at 02:25:42

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"I?m not so sure the substitutions were the reason but Newcastle certainly came out of the blocks quicker after the break"

It wasn't, it was our usual 'rope a dope' tactics sitting back to defend and giving them space to play.

Infuriating when seeing how harrying and attacking works so well in the first half that we don't do more of the same in the second.

It's like watching Jekyl and Hyde.
Gary Sedgwick
814   Posted 14/05/2012 at 03:58:15

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In the USA, every game was available on the telly (6) or via the internet. I have to give a thumbs up to FOX which owns the BPL rights. Games were on channels you would not think of - FUEL, FX, SPEED - as well as on FOX Soccer Channel, FOX Soccer Plus and ESPN. The remaining matches, which included ours, were all available on a live internet stream. All at no extra cost.

Football, especially the BPL , is becoming a major hit in the US.
Saegaran Kana
822   Posted 14/05/2012 at 05:27:14

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I had a busy day, flipping channels to catch the F1 and Asia Cup Junior Hockey finals between Malaysia and Pakistan (Malaysia won) from 8pm till 10pm and then watched Everton vs Newcastle on joint up internet streaming while flipping between Mc and MU game on the telly from 10pm till 1am. It was crazy but totally fun viewing all the drama unfolding. "Great day..but would love if it was a Saturday so i can get a day off to recover before working..bahhh..Next season..can't wait really but i do hope we bring in at least 3 players and i would ship out Anichebe, Rodwell, Silva, McFadden and Jagileka. If we can get 15mil then at least 1 defender and 1 attacking MF can be bought. Cheers.

Gary Mortimer
833   Posted 14/05/2012 at 08:40:03

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As far as I was aware there weren't any matches at 3 on Saturday in any of the English leagues. So there is no reason why they couldn't have been played then.

Yesterday's performance just shows how important it is that we sign Peanuts - although that may depend on whether Chelsea take the last Champs League place. I can see Spurs needing a bigger squad next season if Chelsea mess up.
Shane Corcoran
851   Posted 14/05/2012 at 10:20:01

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Cahill came on for Cabaye? To get him you mean?
Clarence Yurcan
939   Posted 14/05/2012 at 14:58:39

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Can someone please explain to me why Everton can so well at the end of the season and so crap at the beginning? Was it simply just getting Jelavic?

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